comets-book

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 d'Arrest

Comet d'arrest

 

Discovery of Comet d'Arrest (6P/d'Arrest)

Comet Ludwig d'Arrest

Heinrich Ludwig d'Arrest

(1822-1875)

This comet was spotted and recorded by Heinrich Ludwig d' Arrest in Leipzig, Germany on June 28, 1851. It was the sixth comet to have its periodic orbit determined, and therefore received the formal name of 6D/d'Arrest.

 

In 1991, two independent groups of astrophysicists suggested this comet was first observed by Philippe de La Hire in 1678. Although it had been suggested that comets were orbiting the Sun, not a single comet had its orbital period determined by 1678. The first was Halley's Comet (1P/Halley). Astrophysicists in the modern-day have wound back the clock on several comets and have successfully linked them to comets our ancestors observed centuries or, in rare cases, millenia ago.

 

d'Arrest's discovery of 6P/d'Arrest wasn't his sole contribution to astronomy. He discovered and catalogued hundreds of galaxies and open star clusters. He was truly one of the great astronomers. While attending the University of Berlin, he suggested that a recently drawn chart of the sky could be used to discover new planets. Neptune was discovered the night of his suggestion, on September 23, 1846, by Johann Gottfriend Galle.

 

Comet D'Arrest's 2.1 miles (3.1 km) wide nucleus passed 0.15124 AU from Earth on August 12, 1976 Comet d'Arrest. As a result of this proximity, Comet d'Arrest reached its brightest apparent magnitude in recorded history at 4.9.

 

 

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Comet Ludwig d'Arrest

Comet d'Arrest on October 14, 1995

Credit: NASA

Next Return of Comet d'Arrest (Next Perihelion)

Close approaches to Jupiter may have helped put the comet in the "lost" category. It hasn't been seen since 1879, when it was observed for four consecutive months.

 

The last perihelion of Comet d'Arrest occurred on August 14, 2008. The next perihelion will occur on March 2, 2015. It will be one of several comets in 2015 to reach perihelion.