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Halley's Comet Has A Long, Strange History As A "Supernatural" Celestial Object

Updated 22 Feb 2018 5.8k views13 items

Halley’s Comet is one of the great celestial phenomenons that people actually get the chance to experience in their lifetime. The comet has been flying by the Earth for thousands of years, and during that time it’s taken on a kind of supernatural mystique. Many people believe the appearance of the comet is a portent of things to come, but is Halley's Comet an omen? Does Halley's Comet’s orbit hold some kind of sway over how we live our lives, or is it just floating aimlessly through space like the rest of us?

Because of the comet's wonky orbit, it's hard to know exactly when it's going to zoom through the night sky. Scholars have been able to narrow down its appearance to a very small window: Halley's Comet appears every 75 or 76 years, and it's held to this schedule since at least 1682. Prior its discovery by Edmund Halley, there are records of comets that are probably Halley's, as they fit into the accepted timeline. The last time the comet was visible was 1986, which means it won't swing around again until 2061 or 2062.

But is this why is Halley's Comet famous? Aside from the fact it’s one of the few short-period comets we can see from Earth, it’s also tied to a variety of important moments on Earth. Because it happened to appear at the same time as various wars and famines, people began to anticipate the next appearance from Halley's Comet as a destructive omen.

Historical theories about space are always fun. They offer insight into how the human mind works when the imagination runs wild, but they’re rarely accurate. The following facts about Halley’s Comet will cover some basic information, like the distance from Earth to Halley's Comet, and how you can see remains from the celestial object every year, but it's also worth exploring the paradigm shifting events that surround the comet's presence. Who knows what we can expect the next time it breaches our little corner of space? 

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