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  • Venus May Be Responsible For Halley's Chaotic Orbit on Random A Long, Strange History of Halley Comet

    (#7) Venus May Be Responsible For Halley's Chaotic Orbit

    For decades, scientists blamed Jupiter as one of the main culprits behind the lopsided orbit of Halley's Comet, but this gas giant with a mass of two-and-a-half times that of the other planets in the solar system isn't to blame. We should actually be pointing our fingers at Venus. 

    According to Tjarda Boekholt of Leiden University, he did "the most accurate calculations of Halley and the planets ever" and discovered Venus has the biggest effect on the comet out of everything in the solar system... although they're not sure why. Boekholt believes in about 3,000 years, the comet is going to fly close enough to Jupiter for the planet's gravitational pull to have a larger impact. From there on, no one can predict what's going to happen. 

  • People Thought The Comet Would Fill Our Atmosphere With Deadly Cyanogen In 1910 on Random A Long, Strange History of Halley Comet

    (#1) People Thought The Comet Would Fill Our Atmosphere With Deadly Cyanogen In 1910

    It's understandable for people to be afraid of something they don't understand, but in 1910, people were really, really freaked out about Halley's Comet. For the most part, scientists and civilians were fine with the idea of the comet. They hosted "comet parties," and treated the celestial body as a passing dignitary.

    When scientists discovered the tail of the comet contained cyanogen, however, French astronomer Camille Flammarion jumped to conclusions and stated the gas “would impregnate the atmosphere and possibly snuff out all life on the planet.” Smooth move, Flammarion.

    Obviously, people freaked out. They thought armageddon was here. Everyone started buying gas masks, and a few entrepreneurial folks began selling "Anti-Comet Pills." Scientists tried to explain how Flammarion's theory was impossible, but no one listened. In the end, gas failed to impregnate the atmosphere, and the comet continued on its path. 

  • Ancient Civilizations Believed The Comet Predicted Calamities on Random A Long, Strange History of Halley Comet

    (#10) Ancient Civilizations Believed The Comet Predicted Calamities

    Halley's Comet wasn't always a thing of wonder. Prior to humanity's scientific knowledge of celestial bodies, many people believed the comet was a sign of terrible things to come. People believed it predicted everything from war, famines, and even the end of days. 

    In 66 CE, first-century Romano-Jewish scholar Flavius Josephus believed the "star resembling a sword” meant the coming destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. Hundreds of years later, Holy Roman Emperor Louis the Pious thought the comet was an omen signaling his eventual demise. Even though we now know Halley's has no affect on our day to day lives, there are still people who still believe the comet is a sign of the end times. 

  • Mark Twain's Life Eerily Mirrored The Comet's Orbit on Random A Long, Strange History of Halley Comet

    (#6) Mark Twain's Life Eerily Mirrored The Comet's Orbit

    Mark Twain was an anomaly. Not just because his writing was able to beautifully encapsulate every day life, or because he somehow always had a perfectly tailored white linen suit. He was also one of the few people whose life lined up nearly exactly with Halley's Comet. 

    He was born two weeks after the comet appeared in 1835, and he passed when it returned in 1910. Of his relation to the comet, he said

    "I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: ‘Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together."

    He died one day after the comet soared through the sky. 

  • Greek Scholars Describe A Tourist Attraction Created By Halley's Comet on Random A Long, Strange History of Halley Comet

    (#11) Greek Scholars Describe A Tourist Attraction Created By Halley's Comet

    It doesn't matter in which era they were born, scientists love Halley's Comet. They want to know what's it about, what it's made of, and why it taunts us with its fiery whip of a tail. Ancient scholars from Greece, China, and Babylonian societies studied the comet and made some very impressive observations

    Greek scholars described a "wagonload" sized meteor that struck Northern Greece while Halley's Comet was visible in the sky. According to Jo Marchant, a science journalist and author, this turned the area of Greece hit by the meteor into a "tourist attraction," and likely put the fear of the comet into the Greeks. 

    People are now aware pieces of the comet burn up and come loose during its orbit, accounting for meteors that make their way to Earth. At one point it was believed that the comet had even split in two

  • The Comet May Have Caused A Decade-Long Winter Starting In 536 CE on Random A Long, Strange History of Halley Comet

    (#4) The Comet May Have Caused A Decade-Long Winter Starting In 536 CE

    According to some researchers, around the year 536 CE a decade-long winter began, and it had something to do with Halley's Comet. Scholars in Europe and Asia at the time reported 536 CE and the following years were absolutely freezing. Their writings describe what sounds like a large celestial body passing across the Sun. This caused a deep freeze, which completely destroyed crops and lead to years of famine. 

    Geologist Dallas Abbott believes that on its trip past the Sun, Halley's Comet broke up; the resulting pieces of debris that fell to Earth created a large dust cloud, effectively blocking out the sun. An analysis of Greenland ice in 2013 from 533 - 540 CE shows "large amounts of atmospheric dust during this seven-year period, not all of it originating from Earth," according to Abbott.

    Researchers also believe it could have been the reason humanity was more vulnerable to "Justinian's plague" from 541-542 CE. That being said, there's still quite a lot of research to do before we can place blame for this theoretical freeze on the comet. 

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The Halley’s Comet has an orbital period of 76 to 79 years, and the next time it crosses perihelion is July 28, 2061. The Halley’s Comet is The Halley’s Comet has an orbital period of 76 to 79 years, and its next pass through perihelion will be on July 28, 2061. The Halley’s Comet was the first periodic comet to be recorded, and its appearance was well documented in China, ancient Babylon, and medieval Europe until 240 BC or 466 BC, but they didn’t know it was the same comet.

This randomly generated tool catalogs 14 items that you don’t know about the history of the supernatural, including the fact that it once filled our atmosphere with deadly cyanide in 1910, some people believe that Halley’s Comet is Star of Bethlehem and so on, many of which we’ve never heard before.

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