Comet's Tale: History/Exploration
Throughout history, people have watched the bright objects called comets in the sky.  At first, people knew very few facts about comets, so they made up stories and beliefs about them.  Their ideas often made comets seem threatening and powerful.  Gradually, people began to observe, record, and compare information on different comets. They began trying to explain comets using the tools and methods of science. See if you can see the changes in people's thinking as you look at these pictures made at different times in history. We'll ask what you think about some common comet questions, too.
DATE: 1145 CE

Early drawing of a comet, or "hairy star" (Halley in 1145), with inscriptions about rarity and portents of comets

A Drawing from a book written in Canterbury, England around 1145. 
From Trinity College Library, Cambridge.

Many ancient people believed that the appearance of a comet was a sign of bad luck to come. Others saw them as signs of great events, or the rise and fall of a leader. They were not sure of the source or origin of comets. Do you know where comets come from? Even today scientists do not have all the answers to this question.


  Navigation bar:  hotspots for back, table of contents, continue.

  1145 1300 1402 1587 1680 1858 1900 2000

©Copyright 2000 Regents of the University of California.