Comet Halley’s spectacular Eta Aquarids Meteor shower will be visible to the naked eye from May 6 to May 10 according to an announcement by the Planetary Society.
As its orbit comes close to Earth’s orbit in two places, Comet Halley is the parent body of two meteor showers: the Eta Aquariids in early May, and the Orionids in late October. The Eta Aquariids show orbital similarities approaching Earth as they do of Mars and so a meteor shower at Mars is anticipated there as well, but this time appearing to come from Lambda Gemini.
To witness the celestial spectacle, one has to look towards the south-east direction of the sky to spot the constellation Aquarius in the morning sky. The best time is between 3 am and 5 am.
N Raghunandan Kumar, secretary, Planetary Society of Hyderabad, said that Halley’s Comet was last visible in 1986.
Comet Halley’s celestial Meteor showerHalley’s Comet or Comet Halley (officially designated 1P/Halley) is the most famous of the periodic comets and can currently be seen every 75–76 years.
Many comets with long orbital periods may appear brighter and more spectacular, but Halley is the only short-period comet that is clearly visible to the naked eye, and thus, the only naked-eye comet certain to return within a human lifetime.
The comet’s return to the inner solar system has been observed by astronomers since at least 240 BC, but it was not recognized as a periodic comet until the 18th century when its orbit was computed by Edmond Halley, after whom the comet is now named.
The first certain appearance of Halley’s comet in the historical record is a description from 240 BC, recorded in the Chinese chronicle Records of the Grand Historian or Shiji, which describes a comet that appeared in the east and moved north.
The only surviving record of the 164 BC apparition is found on two fragmentary Babylonian tablets, now owned by the British Museum.
The apparition of 87 BC was recorded in Babylonian tablets which state that the comet was seen day beyond day for a month.
According to V.G. Gurzadyan and R. Vardanyan, this appearance is obvious in the replica of Tigranes the Great, an Armenian king, on the coins of his era with a crown that features, a star with a curved tail that clearly represents the passage of Halley’s comet in 87 BC.
American author Mark Twain was born on November 30, 1835, exactly two weeks after the comet Halley’s perihelion.
In his biography, Twain wrote, “I came in with Halley’s comet in 1835. It’s coming again next in the year 1910, and I expect to go out with it. The Almighty has said no doubt, ‘Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.’ ”
Twain died on April 21, 1910, the day following the comet’s subsequent perihelion. The 1985 Hollywood fantasy film ‘The Adventures of Mark Twain’ is inspired by this assertion of the famous author.
The next predicted perihelion of Halley’s Comet is 28 July 2061. On September 9, 2060, Halley will pass within 0.98AU of Jupiter, and then on August 20, 2061 pass within 0.0543AU (8.1 million kilometres) of Venus.
In 2134, Halley is expected to pass within 0.09AU (13.6 million kilometres) of the Earth.
Halley was most recently observed in 2003 by three of the Very Large Telescopes at Paranal, Chile, when Halley’s magnitude was 28.2. The telescopes observed Halley, at the faintest and furthest any comet has ever been imaged, in order to verify a method for finding very faint Trans-Neptunian objects.
Henceforth astronomers will be able to observe it throughout its orbit.