Comets of the centuries

In the fall of 2020, after Amateur astronomers Vitaly Nevsky and Artem Novichonok first observed the comet ISON, astronomers had expected that she would become a “Great comet” − a rare visitor, perhaps the brightest comet of the twenty-first century.

Alas, severely battered during the close approach to the Sun in November of this year, ISON no longer promises such a bright future. To the naked eye from the Ground to see it would be impossible − but hopes not worth it to lose. Somewhere in the dark depths of space, probably unnoticed by anyone else is racing the comet, which will deserve the attention and present us with an unforgettable sight. This has always been the Large comets appear about once a decade, and every century one of them was especially bright.

Comet ISON

We will tell you about these “comets of the century”, since the sixteenth century. It is interesting that they flew as a rule, in the second half of your century, and has had an average of once every 97 years. Given this, we can calculate that if the comet of Ikeya-Seki (C/1965 S1) visited the Earth in 1965, following a visitor, you can wait until 2029.

However, to predict what particular impossible: a Big comet can appear quite unexpectedly, at almost any time. The message we may hear tomorrow.

XVI century: the Great comet of 1577 (C/1577 V1)

27 oktyabryata, the comet was at closest approach with the Sun at 26.9 million km from the star, although the first found mention of it date back to the first of November. The message is incredibly bright heavenly body was found in the records of the colonial administration of Peru, sent to the European metropolis. The comet was seen, and the inhabitants of Europe itself: from surviving evidence, it shone even through the clouds.

8th November records date back to the Japanese Chronicles, which tell about the “star-sweeper”, bright as the Moon, with a long tail. Saw her and the famous astronomer Tycho Brahe, who first observed the comet on November 13 − reflected in the water of a pond in his garden. Scientists compared its brightness to Venus, and in addition, it showed that comets move outside the earth’s atmosphere. Only on 26 January next year this Big comet became invisible.

1577 great comet over Prague on November 12

XVII century: the Great comet of 1680 (C/1680 V1)

The appearance of the comet ISON caused such a stir due to the fact that the first calculations of its orbit showed that it was remarkably similar to the orbit of C/1680 V1. There was speculation that ISON is the Biggest comet returning, we made a circle around its orbit, or at least it preserved a large fragment. Later observations and calculations disproved these hypotheses − but C/1680 V1 is a separate story.

It was a first for mankind, the comet, was first seen with a telescope. The honor of the discovery belongs to the German astronomer Gottfried Kirch of the − then, on 14 November, with the naked eye the comet was not visible. However, by early December she gained brightness as the North star, and together with a tail extending 15 degrees, to ignore it was impossible.

One of the reports reports that the comet could be seen even during the day, and its tail stretched already at 70-90 degrees. He began to shrink in January, 1681, the comet is also gradually began to fade − and in February had disappeared.

The great comet of 1680 over Rotterdam

The eighteenth century: the Great comet of 1744 (C/1743 X1)

First seen on November 29 as a relatively dim object, the comet rapidly approached the Sun and was gaining brightness. Its first appearance was reported independently from each other, a German astronomer Dirk Klinkenberg and Swiss physicist Jean Philip de Seso. It watched the young Monsieur Charles, whom the comet is largely inspired by studies in astronomy − he later became a great scientist, who found many new comets, was the first ever catalogue of star clusters and nebulae.

The comet is the beginning of February 1744 shone brighter than Sirius and threw long − up to 15 degree − curved tail. By 18 February, it became brighter than Venus and formed a second tail. Its peak of visibility occurred in the last days of the month: numerous reports indicate that it was visible even during the day. But the most wonderful sight appeared before the astonished observers in the morning of 6 March, when bright C/1743 X1 rose in the morning sky a brilliant fan with six diverging tails.

Great comet of 1744

XIX century: the Great September comet of 1882 (C/1882 R1)

The brightest comet of the last century is perhaps the most outstanding in the last Millennium. Today it belongs to the numerous family of near-sun comets Creutz − probably fragments of one huge comet that destroyed many centuries ago.

1 September 1882 it was noticed by several observers, including a team of Italian vessel, making the voyage in the southern hemisphere of the Earth. In a few days she gained brightness, and two weeks later it could be seen during the day. But they didn’t stop there: the brightness continued to grow, and in mid-December, when C/1882 R1 was held at closest approach to the Sun, how it shined, according to current estimates, a thousand times brighter than a full moon disk!

It was perfectly clear even in the vicinity of the bright Sun. However, the rapprochement with the star, the comet did not survive. Witnesses said, the core of it collapsed into 4-5 parts.

Great September comet of 1882

The twentieth century: the Comet of Ikeya-Seki in 1965 (C/1965 S1)

Another representative of the family of near-sun comets Creutz, C/1965 S1, was discovered independently by two other Japanese astronomers, in honor of which got its name. Noticing her, quickly crossing the vault of heaven, came fairly late, a month before its closest approach to the Sun (when the comet passed within 1.2 million km from the center of the star).

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