Universe Guide

Halley's Comet

Halley's Comet is a comet, a celestial body that travels in from the far reaches of the cosmos that when it gets closer to the sun begins to burn away and produce a long tail. It is composed mainly of ice and dust. Its orbit takes 76.1 years to travel round the Sun.

The absolute magnitude of the object is 5.5 which is the brightness of the object. A higher absolute magnitude means that the object is faint whereas a very low number means it is very bright.

The Longitude of Ascending Node of the object is 57.9872 degrees. It is the angle between the Reference Direction and the Ascending Node. It is normally represented by the greek letter Ω. The ascending node is the point in which the object passes north. The descending node is the southern.The Argument of Perihelion is 110.9135. It is the angle along the orbit of a planet or other Solar System object as measured from the ascending node (analogous to right ascension and longitude) Ref:Hawaii.

The closest the Comet came to its orbitting target was 1986-01-09 at which point it was 0.595325 A.U. distance away.The Semi-Major Axis of the orbit is 17.94, which is the furthest point from the centre to the edge of an elliptical point.

The orbital inclination, the angle at which Halley's Comet orbits in relation to the orbital plane is 162.3364 degrees. The orbital eccentricity is 0.966672, it is the degree at which Halley's Comet orbits close to a circular (0) orbit as opposed to an elliptical (1) orbit.

History of Halleys Comet

Halley's Comet is the most famous comet that has so far been discovered and whose orbit has been calculated. It was Sir Edmund Halley who after researching comets predicted that the comet he saw in 1682 would return in 1758. It was eventually spotted on Christmas Day by a German amateur astronomer and farmer.

Halleys Comet has been recorded as being seen in the skies during the Battle of Hastings, the battle between William, the Conqueror and King Harold which would define the future of the United Kingdom for the good part of the next thousand years. The comet is recorded in the Bayeux Tapestry, a 70 meter long tapestry that recorded the Battle of Hastings. The tapestry is on show at the Bayeux Cathedral.

Halley's Next Appearance

The last appearance that Halley made was in 1985/6 when it didn't amount to much. The next appearance is in 2061 when it is believed to be in a better position to see. At the time of writing in 2018, the Comet is on its way back as shown by the picture generated from NASA shows. In order to see it on the NASA site, you will need to run JAVA and most modern browsers such as Firefox and Chrome do not support.

Image showing the path of Halleys Comet

Image of Comet Halley's Comet

Image of Comet Halley's Comet

Path of Halley's Comet Orbit

If the white lines are above, then the path of the object is under the ecliptic. If the white lines are below, the path is above the ecliptic. This refers to the Inclination of the object. The image was created using N.A.S.A. Solar System Dynamics.

Path of Halley's Comet Orbit

Halley's Comet Facts

DiscovererSir Edmund Halley
Orbital Period76.1
Absolute Magnitude5.5
Longitude Of Ascending Node57.9872
Argument of Perihelion110.9135
Perihelion Distance0.595325
Semi-Major Axis17.94
Orbital Inclination (degrees)162.3364
Orbital Eccentricity0.966672

List of Meteor Showers linked to Halley's Comet

Meteor ShowerPeak DateInclinationEccentricity
Eta AquaridsMay 5/6
OrionidsOct. 21163.90000.9440

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