Donati's Comet of 1858

Donati's Comet of 1858

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Credit: ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Donati's Comet of 1858, seen from Cambridge, England, on 11 October. The comet is to the left of the dome of the Cambridge Observatory (at that time housing the Northumberland telescope). Discovered in June of that year by the Italian astronomer Giovanni Battista Donati (1826-1873), this comet reached its closest point to the Earth on 10 October 1858. It was one of the brightest and most spectacular comets of the 19th century. Comets are icy bodies from the outer solar system that boil and form a bright tail of gas and dust as they approach the Sun. Artwork by British artist Richard Principal Leitch (c.1827-1882), taken from the 'Illustrated London News, Supplement' (23rd October 1858).

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