Saturday, January 13, 2007

16 November 1906: The Wanderers Of Our System

This comet would have gotten HPL very excited ...

Comet McNaught, discovered last year by Australian astronomer R.H. McNaught, was visible throughout the Northern Hemisphere until Friday, when it came within 16 million miles of the sun and became obscured by the sun's glare.

^Oconomowoc, Wisconsin^

About 100 years ago, young Howard (age 16) wrote in his column for the Pawtuxet Valley Gleaner *, "Comets, those strange astronomical nonentities, are members of the solar system that revolve in very elongated and uneven orbits. ... While most comets are visible only in a telescope, a few are very bright. ... These celestial wanderers were formerly regarded as precursors of calamity, but modern progress has destroyed such gross superstition, and comets are now welcomed rather than dreaded."

* pp. 38,39 of Collected Essays, Volume 3: Science, ed. S. T. Joshi, Hippocampus Press, NY, 2005

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