Halley’s Comet is perhaps the most famous comet of the solar system. Named after Edmund Halley, the scientist who predicted its return, the Halley’s Comet has many interesting facts associated with it. Read on to find out the coolest facts about the Halley’s Comet.
Darker than coal
We see a bright spectacular streak of light when Halley’s Comet passes by the Earth, however, Halley’s comet is actually darker than coal. It reflects only 4% of the sunlight it receives. The brightness that we see is the sunlight reflected by the dust and vapors in its tail.
Mark Twain’s connection with the Halley’s Comet
The renowned American writer, Mark Twain was born 2 weeks before the appearance of Halley’s Comet in 1835. In his biography, he wrote that, since he was born with the comet’s appearance, he would die at the next appearance of the comet. And apparently, he died in 1921, 2 days after the comet appeared next.
Halley’s comet is 15 Km long and 8 Km thick. When it reaches close to the sun, its coma develops that can stretch to 100,000 Km. A comet’s coma is basically an envelope around the comet. When close to the sun, the particles in the coma experience force from the sun’s radiation and get extended outwards away from the sun.
Why Halley’s Comet is called 1P
The “P” in the name of a comet represents “periodic”, while 1 refers to it being the first periodic comet identified by humans.
Halley’s Comet is retrograde
A retrograde comet means that it travels opposite the direction of the planetary orbits.
First seen in 239 BC
Halley’s Comet was first observed in 239 BC. It was observed by Chinese astronomers in the Shih Chi and Wen Hsien Thung Khao chronicles.
Halley’s Comet might have caused Ice Age
Comet Halley’s visit in 530 AD. Due to several reasons, scientists theorize that some major pieces of Halley’s Comet might have fallen on earth in 530 leading to a plunge in temperatures followed by a 10-year winter.
When will be the next visit of Halley’s Comet
We will next see the Halley’s Comet in 2061.
Quick Important Halley’s Comet Facts
- Halley’s comet comes from the Kuiper Belt.
- Comet Halley is named after Edmond G. Halley who was the first to suggest that comets are a natural phenomenon of the solar system. He also predicted accurately the period of the Halley’s Comet and told when would it next cross the Earth.
- Halley’s Comet orbits the sun in an elliptical orbit with very high eccentricity and also in a direction opposite to that of the planets.
- When it enters the interior of the Solar System and approaches the perihelion, the Sun heats its surface, causing the sublimation of its matter.
- The nucleus of Comet Halley is composed majorly of water (70%) and some other compounds like carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, carbon dioxide, methane and, ammonia.