Sunday Magazine - 07 May 2010
And we are still getting pounded by fallout from this comet.Every 76 years or so, Halley’s Comet passes by Earth. 1910 was one of those years. The comet was coming so close that Earth would actually pass through part of its tail. And apparently people were freaked out. Mary Proctor was a well known astronomer at the time (as was her father before her) and in this article she tries to calm everybody down. Earth passing through the tail of a comet, she says, is like a rhino passing through a spider web. The comet’s tail is so huge and the particles in it are so small that they don’t pose any risk to the planet.FEARS OF THE COMET ARE FOOLISH AND UNGROUNDED:
Mary Proctor Tells of Similar Scares in the Past, Occuring Every Time
These Blazing Visitors Were Expected, and All Proved Groundless
(Credit: New York Times Sunday Magazine | 08 May 1910)
Proctor goes on to describe how several comets through history have been heralded as omens both good and bad, but that none of them did much other than put on a light show. So there’s nothing to worry about.
Or is there?
In his 2008 book Death from the Skies!, astronomer Phil Plait examines the various ways the world might actually end. In his chapter on asteroid and comet impacts, he writes, “So how big a danger are asteroid and comet impacts? Statistically speaking, you’re not going to like the answer: the odds of getting hit are 100 percent. Yes, really. Given enough time, and if we do nothing about it, there will be impacts, and one will be big.” But fortunately, he also says that “of all the woes facing us from space, this is the one that is nearly 100 percent preventable.” All we have to do is fund the research to detect and deflect them in time.
Meteor Shower Created by Halley's Comet Peaks Thursday
Space.com | Night Sky | 05 May 2010
It's been 24 years since Halley's Comet last passed through the inner solar system, but remnants from the icy wanderer will light up the dawn sky this week in the Eta Aquarid meteor shower.