Halley’s Comet

In 2061, Halley’s Comet will return to pass by Earth in 75-year long round trip across the solar system. But what else do we know about this mysterious visitor?

Studying the reports of comet sightings in 1531, 1607, and 1682, Edmond Halley deduced that these comets were in fact the same one and that it would return in 1758. Though Halley died in 1742, the comet did indeed return in 1758 and was named after its discoverer. When Halley’s comet returned in 1986, technology had finally allowed astronomers to study it. Probes from multiple international space programs were sent take close-up pictures of the comet for the first time. Research has shown that Halley’s comet is slowly losing about a thousandth of its mass with every loop around. Although it will still take thousands of years to finally die out, it is disheartening to see that not all things in the universe are permanent.

2 thoughts on “Halley’s Comet

  1. From a historical context, I find it extremely interesting that Edmond Halley was able to deduce the existence of Halley’s comet simply from three reported sightings, one of which was from over 100 years before Halley was born! I assume the reports included similar observations that allowed Halley to make a connection between them, but it still seems remarkable that he had enough information to accurately predict the occurrence of another passing. Also, how was he sure that the comet didn’t come by Earth more often than every 75 years and that there simply weren’t reports for the other times it flew by? This is really intriguing!

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  2. Great post! I’ve always found the orbit of Haley’s comet to be so interesting. How close it gets given how long the period is means that the orbit is incredibly eccentric. When it get’s close to us, it actually get’s closer to the Sun than the Earth does! But when it’s at its furthest, it’s about as far away as Pluto – covering pretty much the full range of the (non-extended) solar system.

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