Saturday, September 13, 2008

Halley's Comet | Blog 1-3

The year 1066: A battle is about to take place - the Battle of Hastings - between the conqueror from Normandy, William the Conqueror, and the self-proclaimed king of England, King Harold II. This battle and previous conflicts were ignited by the death of Edward the Confessor, in early 1066. However, something happened before the battle: seen over England for several nights was a bright light, determined by many to be an omen. It was most likely only known by some, that this bright light was in fact a comet, later known as Halley's Comet, and now also referred to as 1p/Halley.

Halley's Comet is perhaps the most renowned periodic comet of all time. This comet is the only which can be seen by the naked eye from earth, however, only every 75-76 years. The comet was first discovered by Edmond Halley, or more specifically, its reappearances first predicted by Halley, consequently the comet was christened Halley's Comet. Edmond Halley, 1656 - 1742, was an English astronomer and good friend of Sir Isaac Newton. Halley actually employed Newton's theory of gravity to explain his own theory. Halley's theory suggested that the bright comets of 1531, 1607, and 1682 were all in fact the same comet. Edmond developed this theory when he noticed that the bright lights in sky of those dates had similar orbits, which led him to investigate and predict the next appearance to be in the year 1758.

Oddly enough, Edmond died before he could actually witness his prediction. But on Christmas night, 1758, the comet was seen once more, fulfilling the astronomer's incredible prediction. Subsequently, Halley's Comet was (and is) the first whose orbit was acknowledged as periodic. As the comet's period recognized, many other appearances can be noted, such as: in 240 BC, the Chinese recorded sightings of a "broom star"; in 163 and 87 BC recorded on Babylonian cuneiform tablets; in 12 BC, again by the Chinese, a "sparkling star" is seen. Many other recurrences of the comet, all in sync with Edmond Halley's testings, have been recorded, the latest being in 1986. However, of all appearances, the one in 1066 is the most famous.

Kronk, Gary W. Cometography: A Catolog of Comets. Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Malam, John. The Battle of Hastings. Cherrytree Books Publishing, 2007.

1 comment:

Still Thinking said...

I think you have your blog marked for adult may want to adjust your settings a bit.