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.
Great Comet of 1264
The Great Comet of 1264
The Great Comet of 1264 (C/1264 N1) was one of the most spectacular comets in recorded history.
The comet was seen in July, August, September and October of 1264. It was first spotted after the sunset. It reached perihelion, shed an enormous amount of material and became incredibly bright. After its perihelion, the comet's tail was seen each morning rising earlier and earlier before the Sun. Astronomers claim the tail stretched over 100 degrees of sky! Think about what that would look like. The comet's head would have been seen on the horizon. If you looked straight up the tail would be there, and still have another 10 degrees to go.
At this time, several cultures still considered comets as omens sent by a god or gods. Depending on the appearance of the comet, it could bring misfortune, flood, diseases, a change in leadership, or even the end of the world. This comet was no different. Due to its spectacular appearance, it was even more ominous than usual. After the comet was first spotted in July, Pope Urban IV allegedly fell ill. On the final day that the comet was visible to the naked eye, on October 3, 1264, the pope died.
In 1778, astronomer Guy Pingre attempted to connect the Great Comet of 1264 to another in 1556. If the comet in 1556 was, in fact, the return of the comet that reached perihelion in 1264, then it would have an orbital period of 292 years. Pingre predicted that it would return in 1848. It did not.