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.

Halley's Comet Appearance in 1910

1910 Halley's Comet

 

Fear of Poisonous Gases in Halley’s Comet

Halley's Comet 1910

Halley's Comet 1910

On February 7, 1910 the Yerkes Observatory announced there was cyanogen in the tail of Halley’s Comet. Cyanogen is commonly known as cyanide.  The poisonous gas was discovered by a new scientific process known as spectroscopy, which examined the way light was dispersed in order to determine the composition of an object.

 

Its easy to dismiss the danger of something in space, but astronomers announced that Earth would pass through the tail of Halley’s Comet on May 19, 1910. The New York Times ran a story where French astronomer Camille Flammarion claimed the cyanogen “would impregnate the atmosphere and possibly snuff out all life on the planet.”  Nice.

 

Despite continued reassurance by the scientific community that the poisonou gas would not penetrate Earth's atmosphere, people bought gas masks and slid “comet pills” into their bellies.

 

The world cautiously waited as Halley's Comet approached Earth in early 1910. Finally, on May 19, 1910, it took six hours for our planet to pass through on tail of Halley’s Comet.  Nobody died.  Nobody got sick. Drug manufacturers simply grew a little richer medicating the planet.

 

 

Path of Halley’s Comet in 1910

Halley's Comet in 1910

Halley's Comet on April 20, 1910

Credit: Stellarium

Halley's Comet spends the vast majority of its life in the Kuiper Belt. It lies in the direction of Canis Minor near Cancer from Earth's perspective. As the nucleus of Halley's Comet entered the inner solar system in 1910, it heated up and began to expel water and gas, which formed the coma and tails. This reflected light and allowed Halley's Comet to be seen with telescopes.

 

By November of 1909, Halley's Comet was visible to the naked eye in the west after sunset. In December, it crossed the length of Pisces and entered Aquarius. By February of 1910, Halley's Comet was obscured by the Sun, but, after a few days, the comet once again became visible. It now appeared on the eastern horizon rising before dawn.

 

Halley’s Comet reached perihelion on April 20, 1910 while near the constellation Corvus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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