Friday, April 16, 2010

Postcard Friendship Friday - Halley and the Comet

1910 Postcard Photo of Halley's Comet

This Day in History: Halley's Comet (pronounced HAL-lee) appeared in the sky April 16, 1910. It was an amazing sight! The 1910 sky that did not contain the dust, smoke and smog particles and artificial light interference that obliterates our view of the night sky today.

Once thought to be a "dirty snowball", Halley's Comet was found to contain very little ice and lots of dust. A better description is "snowy dirt ball". Although it is as black as coal, sun light reflecting on the trail of dust particles makes it appear to be brilliant.

The 1986 appearance was a huge disappointment! Because of light pollution and the positions of the comet and the sun on opposite sides of the earth it was barely seen with the naked eye. I heard about Halley's comet while still in grade school and realized that I would be ancient by the time it reappeared in 1986. I would be (yowzer!) forty-SIX years old! I looked forward to seeing Halley and was hugely disappointed that it did not blast across the night sky in a dazzle of light as it did 76 years previous. Halley won't be back until 2062.

Mark Twain was born during an appearance of Halley. He said that since he came in to the world with the comet He should go out with it on it's next visit. He died in April 1910 just as he predicted.

162 BCE record of Halley's Comet

Halley has been around for millions of years. A clay tablet records, in cuneiform, an appearance of the comet in 162 BCE. Of course it was not called Halley's Comet back then. It was probably called "OMG! Its the End of the World!" or "Hit the Deck!"

Sir Edmund Halley 1656-1742

The comet is named for astronomer, Sir Edmund Haley, the son of a wealthy soap boiler, who used Newton's laws of gravity and motion to predict that three comets reported from 1531 to 1682 were in fact one comet that returns about every 76 years. He said the comet would return again in 1759. It did, but sadly he did not live to see it.

Halley Crater

Besides the comet, Sir Halley (He pronounced his name HAW-ley) has a moon crater named after him - the large crater just left of center.


The Great Daylight Comet of 1910

The greatest modern day view of Halley's Comet occurred in April of 1910. That was a spectacular year for cosmic events. While awaiting the springtime appearance of Halley, the world was surprised by the Great Daylight Comet that appeared in January, 1910. It was so bright it could be seen during the day!

Most meteor showers occur when the earth orbits through the remnants of a comet's tail. The next large meteor shower is the Lyrid Meteor Shower, April 21-22.

Other Notable Halley's:

Bill Haily and his Comets of "Rock Around The Clock" fame

Halley Berry of "Best Kiss Ever After Winning An Oscar" Fame

Haile Sailassi of "Man of the People" and "Time Magazine's Man of the Year" Fame

Other notable things in the sky:

A giant fireball seen at about 10:10 PM last night from Wisconsin to Iowa. The fireball - probably a meteor- exploded with sonic booms and a spectacular view.

Volcanic ash from an erupting volcano in Iceland that is holding up hundrreds of flights from Canada and the US to Great Britain and Europe.

For other notable Postcard Friendship Friday posts, stop by Renee's The Best Hearts Are Crunchy


Linda said...

Great post! But you forgot Hayley Mills, one of my favorite actresses when I was a child and 46 was positively ancient!

Snap said...

Wonderful post on Hayleys and Hayley's Comet. Fun! Great card.

Shaunna said...

Halle Berry - there's no y. :)
What a neat post - there should be a comet called "OMG! It's the End of the World," that would be awesome. :)
Happy PFF!

Beth Niquette said...

What a wonderful post! I remember when a comet came through in the mid-1990's. We were in California at a small bluegrass festival. My girls and I made garlands of flowers for everyone's hair--the music, warmth of the evening, and the magic of the comet hanging in the skies is something I will never forget.

Bob of Holland said...

Interesting post and a great card. Here in Amsterdam, with the vulcanic cloud and without any planes it's actually old-fashionably silent above our heads. Happy PFF.

viridian said...

Happy PFF!
See, there is a reason to take science classes. :-) It's interesting to me to read Bob's comment - that it's noticeably quieter in Holland.

Postcardy said...

I saw the recent fireball on TV. I wish I could have seen it in person.

Joy said...

Wow I wish I had seen that fireball or even the 1910 comet. I remember being disappointed by the comet too, gosh was that as long ago as '86, however there is always something in the night sky to amaze.

Sheila @ A Postcard a Day said...

A very interesting post. I remember being desperately disappointed about the 1986 comet non-show. My father had a great ambition to live to see the solar eclipse in the UK in 1999 - and he did. Unfortunately that was something of a non-show too.

ALL flights in and out of the UK have been stopped, but I hear they may start up again in Scotland soon. That must mean they're blowing the ash south to us. :(

Lyneen said...

Great post.... full of amazing facts... thanks for sharing. I have never seen Halle's Comet but was fortunate to see a total solar eclipse from the big island of Hawaii in 1991!

Clytie said...

I really appreciate all the research you put into this wonderful post. I have enjoyed it so much!

I remember being disappointed by the 1986 visitation as well.

Debs @ Vintage Postcard Gallery said...

flights north are also cancelled in hooked on the BBC world news coverage of that cloud!
wonderful post as ever - and i must say the halle berry comment had me laughing out loud!

CafebyJW said...

Great Post, I was too young during those visit. It is great how you combine two things together "Hayleys and Hayley's Comet"

Thanks for sharing :)

My Bangkok Through My Eyes!
You Got A Posty