Halley's Comet is named after the British scientist Edmund Halley
(1652-1742). He predicted that the comet would return in 1758, which was 16
years after his death. It was the first time a comet's arrival had
been predicted. Halley's comet orbits the Sun every 76 years. Its orbit loops
between Mercury and Venus and stretches out beyond Neptune. Halley's Comet came close to Earth in 1986. Its next visit will be
Halley' Comet was the first comet
to be recognized as having a periodic orbit. Comet Halley is known
as a periodic comet because the time it takes to orbit the Sun is
less than 200 years. Halley's comet is made of dust and ice.
The Chinese described a visit of Halley's comet as long ago as 240
BC. When Halley's comet was seen in AD 837, Chinese astronomers wrote
that its head was as bright as Planet Venus and its tail stretched right
through the sky. King Harold of England saw the comet in 1066. When he was defeated
by William the Conqueror a few months later, people interpreted
the comet's visit as an evil omen.
was the first to discover the reappearance of the
In 1705, he suggested
in 1705 that a comet spotted 1682 was the same one
that lit up the sky in both 1531 and 1607. He
further predicted it would be return in 1758. When
this last appearance did in fact come to pass, the
comet was given Halley’s name.
1985 five spacecraft from Russia, Japan and the ESA (European Space
Agency) were sent to rendezvous with Halley's comet. ESA's
Giotto probe captured close-up colour pictures of Halley's
nucleus showing jets of solar-heated debris spewing into space. Just 14 seconds prior to its closest approach, Giotto was
hit by a small piece of the comet which altered the spacecraft's
spin and permanently damaged the camera. Most of the instruments
were unharmed, however and Giotto was able to make many
scientific measurements as it passed within 600 km of the nucleus.
Halley's comet produces two meteor showers per year: the Orionids
in late October and Eta Aquarids which occurs in early May.
meteor showers happens each year when Earth passes through the
debris stream of Comet Halley and meteoroids hit the atmosphere at
nearly 90,000 mph.
Tapestry and the Appearance of Halley's Comet in 1066 A.D.
The Bayeux Tapestry is
a 50 cm by 70 m (20 inch wide by 230 foot long) embroidered cloth
which explains the events leading up to the Norman conquest of
England as well as the events of the invasion itself.
is annotated in Latin. It is presently exhibited in a special
museum in Bayeux, Normandy, France with a Victorian replica in
Reading, Berkshire, England.
The tapestry tells the story of the Norman conquest of England.
The two combatants are the Anglo-Saxon English, led by Harold II
Godwinson, recently crowned as King of England (and before that a
powerful earl) and the Normans, led by William the Conqueror.
It is believed that William's half-brother, Bishop Odo of Bayeux,
commissioned the Tapestry sometime between 1070 and 1077. In many
respects the Tapestry is both of the period and historically
accurate; for example, the English are clearly seen fighting on
foot behind a shield wall, while the Normans fight on horseback.
In addition, the Tapestry documents and pictures other interesting
historical tidbits, such as the 1066 appearance of Halley's Comet,
which appears in the sky above dumbfounded onlookers. The Tapestry
records, "Isti mirant stella", that is, "They marvel at the
Cor Caroli is the brightest star in the Cannes Venatici
constellation (which is actually a double star. It was given the
name Cor Caroli (the Heart of Charles) by the astronomer Edmond
Halley in honour of his royal patron, Charles II of England.
Did you know?
The most famous comet of all is Halley's Comet. Other
famous comets include
Halley's Comet was seen in about 12 BC, so some say it was the
Bible's Star of Bethlehem.
Comets and How to Observe Them (Astronomers' Observing Guides)
Comet Halley: Pictures of the comet, how it orbits the sun, and information
on who discovered it.
Comet Halley: European Space Agency's Giotto probe returned 2333 images
during the Comet Halley encounter of March 13-14, 1986. By JPL NASA.
Meteors from Halley's Comet - NASA Science
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