Comets: The Mysteries of Space

Last month was a significant for stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere because they had the opportunity to witness the comet NEOWISE strike across the night sky. The comet was located in the northwestern sky, below the Big Dipper.

Scientists are taken back by the comet’s solid structure. Comets are made of gas and dust, created in the beginning of our solar system. When comets, such as NEOWISE, make long orbits around the sun, typically the comet’s ice heats up so quickly that it destroys the comet. However, NEOWISE is a survivor and can tell us some information about the beginning of our solar system. Unfortunately, it will be 6, 800 years before it makes another appearance.

As a way to commemorate this event, let’s look at some articles on Halley’s Comet in New Jersey newspapers!

After witnessing a comet in 1680, Edmund Halley came to the realization that comets traveled on an elongated ellipse and should return to the Earth every 76 years. The last sighting was 1985/86.

Image of path of Halley's Comet with the heading "Path of Halley's Comet, Which is Now Nearing the Earth at the Rate of 2,000,000 Miles a Day."

According to this article, featured in January 12, 1910 Perth Amboy Evening News, Halley’s comet was approaching the Earth at a rate of 2,000,000 miles a day.

Diagram of Halley's path with the heading "Diagram Showing Path of Halley's Comet; How Newarkers May See It

The image above, featured in May 2, 1910 Newark Evening Star and Newark Advertiser, shows the path of Halley’s comet.

Article heading "Great White Way Plans Big Comet Night Observance"

The article above, featured in May 17, 1910 Newark Evening Star and Newark Advertiser, describes what will happen when Halley’s Comet sweeps the night sky. It also reassures the readers that they would not be in any danger.

Image of Halley's Comet with the heading "The Comet As Viewed with Fear By the People in 1758 and as They Look At It in 1910."

Unfortunately, Halley passed away before witnessing Halley’s Comet’s reappearance in 1758. As centuries passed, people became more knowledgeable on comets, replacing the fear they once had with curiosity. the article above is featured in May 18, 1910 Newark Evening Star and Newark Advertiser

Until next time Halley’s Comet!

(Contributed by Kristi Chanda)

Source:

Hornung, Helmut. “Comets Play a Role in the History of Civilization.” Phys.org, Phys.org, 11 Nov. 2013, phys.org/news/2013-11-comets-role-history-civilization.html.

Strickland, Ashley. “You Can See Comet NEOWISE This Month. Here’s What We Know about It.” CNN, Cable News Network, 19 July 2020, www.cnn.com/2020/07/19/world/comet-neowise-july-scn-trnd/index.html.

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