The prettiest thing everrrrr. 1705 and Edmond Halley did what he did best, he looked at the night sky and observed. “Ooooooo” said a starry eyed Edmond. Comets are massive chunks of ice and rock flying around in the solar system.We only get to see it a few times as it embarks upon a huge elliptical orbit of our starry lifegiver – the Sun. The ice melts when near the hot star creating a glittery trail of magical wetbeautydust.
Halley had a look at some reports of a big shiny thing being visible from Earth in 1531, 1607 and 1682. Hypothesising that this was from the same comet, he predicted the return to be in 1758 but of course, he died before that happened. The poor guy didn’t even get to see his theory play out.
When’s it here?
This big massive shiny thing wasn’t supposed to visit until 2061 but midnight on October 21st or 22nd (2014) is set to gift us with a view of the ice dust trail. I’m planning on being alive in 2061 but for those that don’t like those odds, this is the only chance you get as it continues its orbit of the Sun. Importantly, you can strip off and get your liberated, naked eye involved – no telescope necessary.
We haven’t seen it for 30 years, I certainly haven’t as I was not a living entity until 1991. 1986 was the year of the Argentinian World Cup champions, Oprah Winfrey’s first TV show and Halley’s Comet.
What has Halley’s Comet seen?
BC – the Chinese astronomers saw it in 239BC, then by the Babylonians in 164BC and then 87BC.
1066 – England was invaded by the Norman’s in the Battle of Hastings just after the comet showed itself. William the Conqueror listened to his ego, believing the star was for him, and kicked ass to become the first Norman King of England and the last successful leader of an invasion of England.
1682 – Halley saw the comet as a 20something.
1759 – The British did what they do best – acquiring land. Thank you, France, for the West Indies and Guadeloupe. Britain and France were not good friends, with France losing their hold of Quebec. Us Brits love us some bagels and poitine. Madonna releases one of her earlier albums.
1835 – President Jackson survives an attempt on his life by the idiot Richard “Dick” Lawrence in the same year that their national debt was reduced to $0. Think there is more chance that Halley’s comet will fall out the sky than the USA will ever completely alleviate their astronomical debt. Charles Darwin was having a gap year in South America backpacking, taking selfies in the Andes and probably first thinking about evolution as a result of an enlightening round of ayahuasca in some bloke’s hut. He claimed just went to Chile and the Galapogas Islands…
1910, April – Wikipedia says that April’s big event was the comet’s visit. Not wrong. Mark Twain was satisfied to pass the day after the comet’s perihelion, leaving the way that he arrived in the world, in sync with the comet. Destiny. The comet was spectacular this time as it approached to the tiny distance of 13.9million miles away.
Look at this beauty. First image of the comet on camera #nofilter credit to: Lowell Observatory, Arizona
1986, February – Top Gun was the year’s film to see and, taking inspiration from William, Duke of Normandy, Whitney Houston battled her way to number one in the week after its apparation with this:
Fitting, seeing as it was written by Boy Meets Girl, singers of Waiting for a Star to Fall. Some big tunes there.
You will be asked if you witnessed it and you should make the effort to. It’s the space event of October. In all honesty, it might be a bit shit because it is just the trail that we will be seeing. However, there is a chance that there will be cosmic fireworks (woo!). This should look like a bunch of shooting stars, roughly once every two minutes.
NOTE: Londoners will probably not see it due to smog/light pollution/collapsing after a long day. Just lie and say you did see and that it looked really nice. Easy.