Synopses & Reviews
The diminutive size of cometary bodies is in no way proportional to their scientific importance. Theorists suggest that comets played a major role in the development of the Earth and subsequent collosions of comets may have wiped out various life forms, allowing only the most adaptable to develop further. In short, the study of comets is important from a historical perspective, scientifically compelling and, at the same time, entertaining. In this authoritative book, the development of cometary ideas is traced from antiquity through the actual fly-by of Halley by international spacecraft in 1986. The focus is on the cometary theories that were evident in each era. Included are many colorful anecdotes and information about culture and important personalities throughout history. Also contains an exhaustive catalog of all comet apparitions through the year 1700.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 425-473) and index.
Table of Contents
The Origin of Cometary Thought.
Johannes Kepler, Galileo, and the Comets of 1607 and 1618.
The Comet of 1664: Confusion Reigns.
The Comet of 1680: Newton's View from the Shoulders of Giants.
The Return of Comet Halley.
The Eighteenth Century: The Orbit Computers.
The Nineteenth Century: The Shrinking Orbit of Comet Encke, the Disintegration of Comet Biela, and the Meteor Showers.
The Physics of Comets.
The Births and Deaths of Comets.