By indexer
103 days ago

The Great Comet of 1680

The comet that appeared in the sky in November 1680 has two main claims to fame. It was the first to be discovered by telescope and the first to have a known orbit.

It was found by accident by Gottfried Kirch, a German astronomer, when he was actually observing the Moon through his telescope, but as it approached closer to Earth it became clearly visible to everyone as it streaked across the sky.

The orbit was calculated by Isaac Newton who made use of his new theory of universal gravity, publishing his results in his “Principia Mathematica” in 1687.

The Great Comet was seen twice – once as a morning phenomenon as it headed towards the Sun and later in the evenings as it made its return journey towards the outer regions of the Solar System. Newton was the first person to appreciate that these appearances were of the same comet. It had previously been assumed that comets travelled in straight lines, passing through only once. Newton’s discovery that comets travelled round the Sun in parabolic curves was what enabled Edmund Halley to predict that the comet named after him would return every 76 years.

Robert Hooke, the English physicist, noticed a stream of light issuing from the comet’s nucleus. This was the first description of the emanation of jets of material from active areas.

The Great Comet will not be seen again in the lifetime of anyone alive today. Its orbit takes it into the outer regions of the Solar System and it will not return for more than 9,000 years!
carmen3521 interisting one.
Deliana Very interesting article!