Have you ever had the privilege of witnessing a comet? These brilliant astronomical objects have been the source of many superstitions and tales. But comets are not the source of enchantments or anything of the sort. Rather comets are considered to be the left overs from the formation of stars and planets billions of years ago. They are made of different types of ice, such as water, carbon dioxide, ammonia, and methane, mixed with dust with an icy center—known as a nucleus—surrounded by a large cloud of gas and dust often called the coma. This is the formula for all of the most impressive comets.
A comet’s path and motion is dictated by gravity from the planets and stars they pass. Therefore when a comet is in our solar system, most of the gravity affecting its motion is due to the sun and as it gets closer to the sun the faster it moves (because the closer an object is to the sun the stronger the sun’s gravity is on it). As well as moving faster, a comet’s tail grows because more of its ice evaporates. As of early 2016, there are more than 5,260 known comets, a number that is steadily increasing. However, only a few have made a huge impact on our skies. Are you ready to learn about these fascinating comets? Then check out these 25 Most Impressive Comets Ever Seen.
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Great Comet of 1680
This magnificent comet was discovered by German astronomer Gottfried Kirch on November 14, 1680, and became one of the brightest of the seventeenth century. It was reputedly visible even in daytime and was noted for its spectacularly long tail.
Comet Mrkos was photographed by Alan McClure on August 13, 1957. The picture impressed astronomers since it showed two types of cometary tails, the straight ion tail and the curved dust tail. Both tails pointed away from the sun.
De Kock–Paraskevopoulos (1941)
This weirdly beautiful comet is best remembered for its long but faint tail and was visible at both dawn and dusk. It was independently discovered by an amateur astronomer named De Kock and decorated Greek astronomer John S. Paraskevopoulos, who also discovered a crater on the moon and named it after himself.
Comet Skjellerup–Maristany was a long-period comet that became very bright in 1927. This great comet was observable to the naked eye for about thirty-two days and was independently discovered by Australian astronomer John Francis Skjellerup and Argentine astronomer Edmundo Maristany.
Mellish was an impressive periodic comet mainly seen in the southern hemisphere. Many astronomers believe that Mellish could possibly return in 2061, the same year as Halley.