The Earth and Comets' Tails


IN spite of the unreserved predictions of astronomers, the earth did not pass through the tail of Halley's comet on May 18–19, nor subsequently. The tail as seen in the morning sky, previous to the transit of the comet across the sun's disc, appeared like a long and straight beam of light stretching from the horizon to Aquila. It was noticed from day to day that the tail was practically fixed in position in the sky. We rather expected the tail to get nearer to Venus and Saturn as the comet approached the ecliptic, but it remained stationary. On the morning of transit, May 18–19, tail was unchanged, but a second branch to the south was now noticed. It joined the northern branch to the east of the Square of Pegasus. Unfortunately, this southern branch was near the zodiacal light, and only distinguished from it with difficulty.

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INNES, R. The Earth and Comets' Tails. Nature 83, 459 (1910).

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