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These Periodic Comets Stun and Amaze Us Again and Again


Today we give you eight comets that have an orbit. These celestial bodies travel throughout space on a clearly defined path, so if you miss it, it’ll most certainly be back. Some of these you’ll recognize but a few will leave you scratching your head.

Brorsen-Metcalf is a comet that was first discovered in 1847 by Theodor Brorsen. This comet has an orbital period of 70 years so keep an eye out on June 8, 2059 because that’s when it’s coming by next.

Comet Swift-Tuttle last came around on December 11, 1992. It takes 133 years for it to make its way around its orbit, which means that it’s going to be 2126 by the time it comes around again. If the singularity occurs plan on seeing it with your own eyes.

Comet Encke was first observed in 1786 by Pierre Méchain, although it didn’t get its name until 1819 when its orbit was computed by Johann Franz Encke. This isn’t a terribly huge comet, it’s diameter is only 4.8 kilometers. This celestial body takes 3.3 years to make its orbit around the sun, so you only need to wait til 2017 til it comes back around.

PANSTARRS is technically an asteroid, or even more technically it is a main-belt comet. This means that it is orbiting within an asteroid belt, pretty cool that it could survive. This six tailed asteroid/comet was first discovered in 2013, and has an orbit that takes 3.2 years to complete.

Almost everyone has heard of Halley’s comet, at least everyone that was alive in 1986 when it last came around. Its next appearance isn’t going to happen til 2061 so don’t hold your breath for its return. This comet’s first documented sighting goes back to 240 BC.

Comet Ikeya-Zhang was first discovered in 2002, when the Chinese astronomer Zhang Daqing discovered it in the constellation Cetus. Unfortunately for us all this comet takes almost 367 years to complete its orbit, meaning that you won’t have a chance to see it until 2362.

Comet Holmes was discovered by the amateur astronomer Edwin Holmes in 1892. For a short time, in 2007 when it returned, it was the largest object in our solar system, when the dust ball surrounding the comet grew to a size greater that the sun, it’s just like the hulk, except much much bigger.

Churyumov-Gerasimenko is so hot right now. Recently, and by recently I mean August 6, 2014, it was boarded by the ESA’s Philae. This marks the first time that we have actually landed something on a comet, because in the past we have flown things into comets to see what kind of debris is sent shooting into space. Thanks to the ESA we have made a huge step in discovering what comets are made of, hopefully it can hold on for 6.45 years so we can pick it up on it’s next lap around.

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