Halley's Comet

Timeline 1758

Astronomer Edmond Halley (1656 -1742) made observations of a comet in 1682 and calculated that it could be the same body that had previously been seen in 1531 and 1607. He predicted that it would return in 1758 but by the time he was proved right he had been dead for many years. It was the first time that a comet's return had been predicted. Most  astronomers believed that comets moved in straight lines through the solar system and Halley's idea that it was actually in orbit was a radical departure from accepted thought.

Halley's comet comes round approximately every 76 years and it has had a number of recorded sightings. It is the star shown on the Bayeux Tapestry that was supposed to have foretold the Battle of Hastings. It was also used by Italian artists to represent the Star of Bethlehem, which inspired the name Giotto for the space probe sent to study it on its 1986 return. In 1910 it almost shared the skies with the Daylight Comet, which appeared just a few weeks before Halley came back.

Other Comets
There were two bright comets that both earned the name "The Great Comet" because of the length of their tails, in 1811 and in 1843. Donati's Comet of 1858 had two tails.

The background pic
is an artist's impression.