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When will Halley’s Comet next be visible, when did it last appear and could it hit Earth? – The Sun



FIREBALLS from Halley's Comet will streak across the night sky this weekend as the Orionid meteor shower peaks.

Here's everything you need to know about the dazzling display.

  Halley's Comet passes through space as seen from the Ford Observatory in 1986

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Halley's Comet passes through space as seen from the Ford Observatory in 1986Credit: Corbis – Getty

When will Halley's Comet next be visible?

The comet itself has a long 75-year orbit, but its remains are scattered along its route.

Every October or November, Earth passed through this field of debris.

The chunks of space rock hit the atmosphere at huge speeds, and then burn up – creating a meteor shower.

They travel very quickly, reaching speeds of up to 41 miles per second as they soar across the night sky.

Halley is the only known short-period commit that is regularly visible to the naked eye from Earth, and will appear next in mid-2061.

When did it last appear?

Halley last appeared in the inner parts of the Solar System in 1986.

During that appearance the comet became the first comet to be observed in detail by spacecraft.

That provided the first observational data on the structure of a comet nucleus.

High-powered telescopes also observed the comet as it swung by Earth.

  Meteors seen streaking across the sky in Russia during 2016's Orionid meteor shower

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Meteors seen streaking across the sky in Russia during 2016's Orionid meteor showerCredit: Getty – Contributor
  he head of Halley's Comet as photographed by Dr George Willis Ritchey using the 60-inch (1.5-meter) telescope at Mount Wilson Observatory, California

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he head of Halley's Comet as photographed by Dr George Willis Ritchey using the 60-inch (1.5-meter) telescope at Mount Wilson Observatory, CaliforniaCredit: Getty – Contributor

Could it hit Earth?

During the comet's pass in 1910, it flew by about 13.9 million miles from Earth, which is about one-fifteenth the distance between Earth and the sun. During that moment, Halley's Comet was captured on camera for the first time.

According to biographer Albert Bigelow Paine, the writer Mark Twain said in 1909: "I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it."

Twain died on April 21, 1910, one day after perihelion, when the comet emerged from the far side of the sun.


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