You can now buy the recently released book, Fall of a Thousand Suns: How Near Misses and Comet Impacts affected the Religious Beliefs of our Ancestors. It is available through iBooks and Amazon.


This website only lists information on modern-day comets and meteor showers. The book, however, thoroughly investigates how specific ancient impacts and near misses changed religious beliefs around the world.

Comet Brooks 2

Comet Brooks 2



The Discovery of Comet Brooks 2 (16P/Brooks 2)

Would it surprise you to learn that the director of the First National Bank of Geneva helped discover the sixteenth periodic comet? Well, through a bizarre sequence of events he did just that. Like several wealthy men in the late nineteenth century, William Smith had an interest in astronomy. That interest led to him building an observatory behind his house in Geneva, New York and a nearby state-of-the-art one called the Smith Observatory.


Smith convinced a British-born astronomer, William Robert Brooks, to move to Geneva and serve as director of the observatory. As part of the lure, Smith built Brooks a house near his own mansion. Brooks wasn't any ordinary astronomer. He had quite a reputation. In 1881, he discovered his first comet. In 1886, he discovered three more.


Using the telescope at Smith Observatory, Brooks went on to discover sixteen more comets and become a pioneer in astrophotography. On July 7, 1889, Brooks spotted a comet that would later become known as Comet 16P/Brooks 2.






The Fragmentation of Comet Brooks 2 by Jupiter

Several weeks later, on August 1, Edward Barnard discovered two fragments of the comet and called them "B" and "C". The next day he observed another four of five fragments, which disappeared the next day. On August 4, two more fragments were observed and called "D" and "E". All of the fragments were observed for only a matter of days, weeks, or months. However, they were never again observed during any future orbit.


The fragmentation of Comet Brooks 2 is believed to have been caused by a close pass to Jupiter in 1886, when it passed .001 AU from Jupiter. The gravity of the planet tore the comet into fragments.


Since its 1889 discovery, comet 16P/Comet Brooks 2 has never exceeded 10 magnitude—meaning it has never been visible to the naked eye.




The Orbital Period of Comet Brooks 2

Comet 16P/Brooks 2 is a Jupiter Family Comet. It takes 6.14 years to complete one orbit around the Sun.



Comet Brooks 2 orbit

The Orbital Path of Comet Brooks 2 (16P/Brooks 2)

Credit: JPL