Halley’s Comet Panic Of 1910

By | July 27, 2019

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Halley’s Comet 1910. Source: (Wikipedia.org)

An innate part of human nature is the tendency to fear things we don’t understand. And while astronomers have been devising ways to study the heavens for centuries, the space beyond our world has always been a source of mystery and, therefore, fear. And, sometimes, fear grows into a full-blown panic. Such was the case with when Halley’s comet passed by the Earth in 1910.

Halley’s comet was not an unexpected sight that year. Edmond Halley figured out its pattern in 1705 after he used the gravitational theories of Sir Isaac Newton to chart the paths of two dozen comets and figured out that the comets which appeared in 1531, 1608, and 1682 were all the same object and that it was orbiting the sun. His theory was proven correct when the comet reappeared in 1758, just as he had predicted, though he sadly did not live to see it as he died in 1742. French astronomer Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille was, though, and he named the comet in Halley’s honor.

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Edmond Halley. Source: (thefamouspeople.com)

Since Halley’s revelation, other scientists have studied historical appearances of comets. Researchers Daniel W. Graham and Eric Hintz believe that one of the earliest sightings of the comet occurred in Greece sometime around 466 B.C. and was visible for 75 days. Another early sighting found among ancient Chinese records occurred in 240 B.C. Ancient Babylonia recorded it in 164 B.C. and 87 B.C. and the Romans witnessed it in 12 B.C.