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Comet

Edmund (sometimes Edmond) Halley was born on 8 November 1656.

What is Edmund Halley famous for?

Halley was an English astronomer and mathematician who was the first to calculate the orbit of the comet later named after him.

image: comet

On 13 March 1758, Halley's comet came to its point nearest the sun (called its perihelion), just as Edmund Halley predicted it would do in 1682.

The comet was named after him because he identified it as the same one seen in 1531 and 1607. He calculated that the comet would return every 75 to 80 years. During the 20th century it was seen in May 1910, and in March and April 1986.

Halley's comet is depicted on the Bayeux tapestry, marking its appearance in 1066.

Halley's comet is predicted to be visible again from Earth in 2061

What is a comet?

Comets are icy bodies that releases gas or dust. They have often been described as 'dirty snowballs' because their solid centre, called a nucleus, contains rock particles trapped in frozen liquid.

How are comets formed?

Comets are left over from the formation of stars and planets billions of years ago. Some scientists believe that comets originally brought to Earth some of the water and the carbon-based molecules that make up living things.

How big is a comet?

Comets can measure up to ten miles across and have tails that can extend millions of miles into space.

Why do Comets have a tail?

When Comets come close to the Sun they vapourise, developing a bright tail.

As a comet moves closer to the Sun, the heat from the Sun turns the outer ice into gas and the solid particles are released as dust. These gas and dust particles trail the comet in the form of a tail.

How are Comets named?

A comet is usually named after the person who first sees it. Comet Hale-Bopp, discovered on 23 July 1995, was named after two men, Alan Hale, who is a teacher and scientist living in New Mexico, and Thomas Bopp, who works in the truck parts department of a company in Arizona.

Halley’s comet

Halley’s comet was discovered by Isaac Newton and Edmund Halley in 1680.

Dimensions 16 x 8 x 8km

Also on this day ......

13 March 1781: Uranus, the seventh planet from the Sun, was discovered.

Activity

Pretend you have discovered a new planet. Describe this new planet. Does it contain any life forms? How far away is it from the sun?

Links

Space websites

 

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