Have you ever had the privilege of witnessing a comet? These brilliant astronomical objects have been the source of many superstitions and tales. But comets are not the source of enchantments or anything of the sort. Rather comets are considered to be the left overs from the formation of stars and planets billions of years ago. They are made of different types of ice, such as water, carbon dioxide, ammonia, and methane, mixed with dust with an icy center—known as a nucleus—surrounded by a large cloud of gas and dust often called the coma. This is the formula for all of the most impressive comets.
Great Comet of 1680
This magnificent comet was discovered by German astronomer Gottfried Kirch on November 14, 1680, and became one of the brightest of the seventeenth century. It was reputedly visible even in daytime and was noted for its spectacularly long tail.
Comet Mrkos was photographed by Alan McClure on August 13, 1957. The picture impressed astronomers since it showed two types of cometary tails, the straight ion tail and the curved dust tail. Both tails pointed away from the sun.
This bright comet was discovered in July 1911 by astronomer William Robert Brooks. It is best remembered for becoming a bright naked-eye object and its distinct blue color, which was the result of the emission of carbon monoxide ions.
Photographed more than any comet that came before it, Comet Daniel was one of the most widely seen comets of the early twentieth century.
Comet Lovejoy is a long-period comet and Kreutz Sungrazer (a family of sun-grazing comets, characterized by orbits taking them extremely close to the sun at perihelion). It was discovered in November 2011 by Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy.
Discovered by John Caister Bennett on December 28, 1969, while still almost two astronomical units from the sun, Comet Bennett, formally known as C/1969 Y1, was one of two brilliant comets to grace the 1970s, along with Comet West.
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