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 Faye

Comet Faye

 

Discovery of Comet Faye (4P/Faye)

On November 22nd of 1843, Herve Faye spotted a comet near Gamma Orionis while using a telescope at the Royal Observatory in Paris. Faye was a graduate and eventual professor at Ecole Polytechnique, one of the preeminent schools for applied mathematics in France.

 

Herve Faye

Herve Faye

(1814– 1902)

His small comet was already a month past perihelion. It was incredible faint, at the time of discovery, but became a naked eye comet by the end of the month. Faye's discovery was covered by press worldwide and earned him the Lalande Prize in 1844 and a membership in the Academy of Sciences.

 

As Herve Faye raced to determine the orbit of the comet, others did as well. Unfortunately, for Faye he had some unfavorable days of viewing when others did not.

 

Thomas James Henderson calculated that it was a short-period comet with an orbital period of 6.58 years, which meant it never traveled beyond the orbit of Neptune. Urbain Le Verrier refined Henderson's calculations and believed the orbital period of Comet Faye was 7.43 years. Due to a close encounter with Jupiter, at 0.25 AU, Verrier believed that Comet Faye would once again reach perihelion in April of 1851. Close, but no cigar. The comet arrived slightly earlier than Henderson's prediction in November of 1850.

 

The comet has been "recovered" every orbit since its discovery, except for in 1903 and 1918.

 

Comet Faye was the fourth comet in history to have its orbital period definitively determined. As a result, it was formally named 4P/Faye. The three previous periodic comets were Halley's Comet (1P/Halley), Comet Encke (2P/Encke) and Comet Biela (3P/Biela). Unlike it predecessors, Comet Faye was named after its discoverer and not the individual who predicted its orbit. It was also the first comet in history to have its orbital path and period determined without using positions from prior orbits.

 

The nucleus of Comet Faye is thought to be around 2.1-miles-wide (3.5 km).

 

 

 

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Return of Comet Faye (Next Appearance)

Comet Faye's last periheliion was on November 15, 2006. It reached an apparent magnitude of 9.5 during that orbit.

 

Its next perihelion will occur on May 29, 2014. During this next appearance, its apparent magnitude is expected to be around 12. The appearance of Comet Faye will come a few short months after what many expected to be one of the brightest comets in history, Comet ISON.

 

 

Orbital Period of Comet Faye

The orbital period of Comet Faye is 7.55 years.