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Halley’s Comet by Paul Joslyn

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  • Halley’s Comet by Paul Joslyn

    p1.jpgHalley’s Comet is the most famous comet of all the comets I have ever read about. It was named after the great Edmund Haley, who was born in 1656 and obviously lived until he died in 1742. It is often forgotten about due to its long absences from our skies. This beauty will only orbit the sun every seventy-six years. Halley’s Comet last graced us with a sighting in 1986 and is not scheduled for return flight until 2062. For this I am a little sad that this comet will not come around again until I am far too old and senile to know what the heck I am looking at. Most likely, as a seventy-eight year old man, I will stare up at the sky, and shake my cane in a violent fashion, telling that bright light to go away so I can sleep. Well, enough about me--let’s get back to our topic.
    In 240 B.C. Chinese astronomers had the privilege of watching our comet cross the sky. Another sighting was described by Chinese astronomers in A.D. 837; they described the head of the comet as being “as bright as Venus”, and the tail of the comet as stretching across the entire sky. The next interesting historical entry I found involving our comet is centered on King Harold II of England, who reigned from 1022 - 1066. Halley’s Comet made its appearance in 1066, only a few months before the battle between Harold II and William the Conqueror. This battle was the historical event in which King Harold II was killed and his army defeated. The sighting of the comet a few months prior caused the comet to be thought of as an evil omen.

    Another cool historical happening that involves Halley’s Comet is the arrival of one of the most beloved authors of our history, Samuel Langhorn Clemens, better known to some as Mark Twain. Mark Twain was born in Florida, Missouri, as Halley’s Comet flew over in 1835 and he died in Redding, Connecticut, the day following the comet's return in 1910. Mr. Twain was a man who was full of humor and was a wealth of wisdom and common sense. One of the things Mr. Twain was proud of was the fact that he was born with the arrival of Halley’s Comet and was often heard saying he would, “go out with it”. Perhaps Mr. Twain was a special gift on loan to us from our comet of topic. I, for one, am very glad for the birth of such a great author and orator.

    One final cool factoid on this subject is the historical sighting of this comet in 8 B.C. Some say that Halley’s Comet is the Bible’s Star of Bethlehem. I don’t personally take any stance on the truthfulness of this fact, but I do find it fun to speculate on such things. It's a fascinating idea that one could have a chance to see something like this that has been around for over two thousand years and is still flying around the sun to pay us a visit every seventy-six years. I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and I look forward to your comments and feedback.
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