Halley’s Comet is the most famous comet in history. It has probably been observed by more people living on the earth than any other comet. It has been periodically appearing in the night sky every 74 to 79 years since 240 BC.
It was Edmund Halley who noticed a comet that returned in 1531, 1607 and 1682 and predicted its return in the year 1758. It came just as he predicted but unfortunately he didn’t live long enough to see the comet. Because he was the first to recognize its periodic return it was named after him.
The comet last appeared in the year 1986. It never came very close to the earth and its appearance was a disappointment for many. For those lucky enough to observe it with binoculars or a telescope it was a rewarding sight.
It was in the fall 1985 that I set up my telescope up in my backyard hoping to see this famous comet. A booklet I had purchased gave celestial coordinates of where it should appear. Noting its predicted position on my star atlas I slowly moved my telescope to the starry pattern where it was supposed to be. There it was… but only a faint dim smudge. A flood of emotion came over me and I felt a connection to the generations before me that had observed the comet. It is predicted to return again in the year 2061.
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