When will Halley's Comet Visit Next?

When will Halley's Comet next visit us? - Question posed by Jenstie.

Halley's comet is a short-period comet with an orbital period of about* 75 years. The last time it visited our area of the solar system was in 1986, first appearing visibly towards the end of 1985 as documented by my grandfather** in the front cover of his copy of Carl Sagan's Comet:

A quick off-topic message: My granddad passed away in November 2019. I made sure I grabbed this book out of the pile my grandma put together for sending to their church's book sharing library as, thanks to this page it's so much more than just a great book to me. I'll take the opportunity, as well, to thank Marie Curie for the care they provided in his final weeks. I don't know what I and the rest of my granddad's closest kin would have done without them. If you wouldn't mind donating any amount that you can afford I know they're struggling at this time and would very much appreciate every penny you can send their way. Thanks for reading.
Now, back to the astronomy...

Even if I had been old enough to understand what was going on, it would have been just my luck that, due to the Earth and the comet being on opposite sides of the Sun, the viewing conditions were pretty much the worst of the last two millennia. The "Halley Armarda," consisting of five probes of Japanese, European and Franco-Soviet origin, was promptly launched to study the comet in more detail, including our first close-up colour pictures of a comet's nucleus, taken by the ESA's Giotto probe.

The next visit from Halley's comet is predicted for 2061, with perihelion being reached on July 28th. If you want to work out how old you'll be, subtract the year you were born from 2061. I'll be 78****. Crikey.

Put it in your diary and make sure you see it if you can, as comets don't last forever.




* 'About,' because its orbit is adjusted slightly when it passes close enough to the planets of our solar system.
** I don't recall this apparition*** as the date of my granddad's sighting is just a little more than a month after my third birthday.
*** The word 'apparition' is not just for ghosts: when a comet appears in the sky, it's known as an apparition.
**** As my 79th birthday will be in October.

Comments

Popular Posts

My Blogs