Table of Cool Comet Facts

  1. First Telescope discovery
  2. Naming comets
  3. Who is the ferret of comets?
  4. What is the difference between a long and short period comet?
  5. When was the earliest recording of a comet?

First Telescope Discovery

[First person to discover a comet with a telescope was Gottfried Kirch on November 14, 1680

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Naming comets

["The rule now is that new discoveries (and recoveries) receive a designation made up of the year followed by a capital letter for the half-month in which it is found. A= Jan. 1-15, B=Jan 16-31, C= Feb 1-15, and so on down to y= Dec. 16-31. (The letter I is omitted to spare everyone confusion)" (Robert Burnham's Great Comets, 49). As for the letter preceding the comet information C-comet; D-is also used for comets; A-asteroid; P- is for a periodic comet. 

Example:    C/2002 C1 Ikeya-Zhang   

The C is for comet; 2002 is the year discovered; the second C would be in the month of February between 1st and the 15th when the comet was discovered; 1 as I understand it is the first discovery of that time period in that particular year.]

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Who is the ferret of comets?

[In 1770 Charles Messier had discovered so many comets via a telescope that, "Louis XV called him ferret of comets" (Comets: creators and Destroyers by Levy, 34).]

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What is the difference between a long and short period comet?

[Long Period comets 100,000 to 1,000,000 years to orbit the sun. Short Period comets less than 200 years. In ?'s book Falling Stars, he says that there are two areas which harbor comets. One is the Oort cloud and the other is the Kuiper Belt. He explains that scientists believe that the long period comets come from the Oort cloud and short period comets come from the Kuiper Belt. ]

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When was the earliest recording of a comet?

[The Earliest record of comet sightings were made by the Chinese in 1059 B.C. The first drawing was also by the Chinese on a silk book.

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Go to the Comet Resource Page for my sources of information


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