Saturday Scenes

Thu 23 May 2013

Big Ball of Fire

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 23:49

On the 18th of May in 1910, the earth passed through the tail of Halley’s Comet. The only short-period comet that is clearly visible to the naked eye, Halley’s Comet, comes around every 75-76 years. The comet has attracted interest since at least 240BCE, with clear records kept by Chinese, Babylonian and European astrologists.

Heads and tails

In the popular mind a comet would not be a comet without its tail, but in truth the majority of comets are as tailless as a Manx cat. Amputee comets are almost invariably faint, though, so just about every comet that you are likely to see with the naked eye will have a tail, or possibly two: one composed of gas and one of dust. You can tell the two apart because the tail of gas is straighter, whereas the tail of dust is more curved and smudgy. Note that the direction in which a comet spreads its tail is no clue to the course the comet is steering, for a tail is not the wake of a comet. Rather, the tail blows away from the Sun, so a departing comet actually chases its own tail.

The next visit of Halley’s comet is in 2061 and as it retreats away from us, will pass within 8,120,000km of Venus on the 20th of August.

IMPORTANT: the 20th of August 2061 will fall on a Saturday. So I expect ALL OF YOU to go out there with your cameras and take great photographs.

Much like these photographs here:

And these are the shooting stars who took them:

We’d love to see MORE photographs of more places! Simply tweet the location of your photograph (taken on a Saturday) to @SatScenes to be included.

Follow @SatScenes for more details and you’ll never miss another edition.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Powered by WordPress WPMU Theme pack by WPMU-DEV.