Archived from: Mt. Wilson Observatory Museum Exhibit:

MWO Museum Exhibit: Halley's Comet

Information originally compiled to prepare for the 1986 return of the comet.

[Overview image of Comet Halley]
Original Caption:
The comet has been observered on 27 returns in intervals of 76 years. It was last seen in 1910 and will be seen again in 1986. The head of a comet is composed of gases and small particles, possible no larger than grains of sand. Probably no harm would result to the Earth from colliding with a comet.
Modern Description:
The comet's next return is scheduled for AD 2061. The last sentence is no longer thought to be true. Analysis of several impact craters on the Earth show that the effects of comet collisions can be devastating. Even near-collisions, as is thought to have been the case in Tunguska in 1908 can cause widespread damage.

[Orbit Diagram of Comet Halley]

The orbit of the comet is very elliptical (e = 0.97), almost parabolic. At closest approach, it is 0.59 A.U. from the Sun (just under 90 million km, or 55 million miles), and its orbit extends out to beyond the planet Neptune.

[Head of Comet Halley]

A close-up image of the comet's nucleus. Note the different jets of material that make up the beginning of the tail. The tail is blown away from the comet by the solar wind, thus, it always points away from the Sun.

The stars in this photograph are elongated because the camera was tracking the comet, which moved perceptibly against the background stars.

[Tail of Comet Halley]

An image of the whole tail.

Text and images after: Mt. Wilson Observatory Museum Exhibition.

[Comet Halley Page]

Hartmut Frommert [contact]

[Comets] [Spider] @ [SEDS]