A comet is a relatively small solar system body that orbits the Sun. When close enough to the Sun they display a visible coma (a fuzzy outline or atmosphere due to solar radiation) and sometimes a tail.
Halley’s Comet is probably the most recognizable passing object in the sky. Like most comets, it is made of ice, dust, and gas. When Halley’s Comet orbits close to the Sun, it has a bright and glowing appearance that can be seen from Earth. It is said that it was first noticed back in 240 BC. In 1705, an astronomer named Edmond Halley discovered that the comet appears every 75 to 76 years.
Interesting Halley’s Comet Facts:
- The most famous appearance of Halley’s Comet occurred in 1066 AD right before the Battle of Hastings.
- Although Edmond Halley predicted that Halley’s Comet would appear in 1758, he died before it happened.
- The last appearance of Halley’s Comet occurred in 1986.
- The next appearance of Halley’s Comet will not occur until 2061.
- Halley’s Comet is known as a short term comet because it takes less than 200 years to orbit the Sun.
- The comet is named after Edmond Halley because he is the person who discovered its period of orbit.
- During its return in 1986, Halley’s Comet was able to be studied using spacecraft.
- The portion that has a glowing appearance on Halley’s Comet is known as a coma.
- Halley’s Comet is about 9 miles long.
- Halley’s Comet is said to have originated in the Oort Cloud.
- The orbit of Halley’s Comet is known as an elliptical orbit because of the shape it forms.
- At some point during its orbit, Halley’s Comet becomes as far away from the Sun as Pluto and as close as Venus.
- The first record of Halley’s Comet was found in a Chinese chronicle.
- It is believed by some that the Star of Bethlehem seen by the Wise Men when Jesus was born was actually Halley’s Comet.
- Mark Twain was born during a Halley’s Comet appearance and successfully predicted he would die during the next one.