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The Most Famous Comets Throughout History

Antonia R.Antonia R.

At the beginning of December of this year, we may witness the passing of the comet ISON.

Scientists predict that looking at the comet will be akin to looking at a full moon.

Throughout history there, some remarkable comets have been witnessed.

The Lovejoy comet

In November 2011, the Australian Terry Lovejoy was the first spot the comet. In the same year, it passed 86992 miles (140, 000 km) from the surface of the Earth and remained intact throughout its hazardous flight.

Most astronomers believed that it would vaporize near the sun and its survival astounded many.

The McNaught comet

The comet was discovered by astronomer Robert McNaught in 2009. A year later it passed near Earth and was visible with the naked eye.

The head of the comet was a gas cloud, larger than the planet Jupiter - the largest planet in our solar system.


The Hale-Bopp comet

This was the most observed comet of the 20th century and one of the brightest that has ever been seen.

The comet was visible for a record-setting 18 months.

Hale-Bopp was discovered by two amateur American astronomers - Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp.

Its closest proximity to Earth was on March 23, 1997.

Haley's comet

It was named after astronomer Edmond Haley, who proved that the observed comets in 1531, 1601 and 1682 were in fact the same object.

Data on Haley's comet go back to 240 BC, described in Chinese chronicles.

Its last passing by the sun happened in 1986 when 5 space probes from the USSR, Japan and other European nations were sent at it.

It was determined that the core of Haley's comet was made of dust. The surface of it was uneven and rocky. Its diameter is around 6.2 miles (10 km).

The average time for the appearance of Haley's comet is around 76 years, keeping in mind that the gravitational pull of the large planets change its orbital timeline to some degree.

The next passing of Haley's comet by the sun will be in 2061.