Comet observations, 16th century

Comet observations, 16th century

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Credit: MIDDLE TEMPLE LIBRARY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Comet observations. 16th-century artwork of five comets and their appearance in the night sky. This woodcut is from 'De cometis dissertationes novae' (1580) by the Swiss physician and theologian Thomas Erastus (1524-1583). This work was part of an extensive debate about comets taking place among scholars in Europe at the time. This debate was prompted by the comet of 1577-8, with Erastus arguing that comets could not cause pestilence as was popularly believed. It is now known that 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.

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Keywords: 1500s, 1580, 16th century, 5, artwork, astronomical, astronomy, book, comet, comet of 1577, comet of 1577-8, comet of 1578, cometary, comets, de cometis dissertationes novae, european, five, flaming stars, historical, history, illustration, monochrome, observing, page, quintet, research, solar system, space, swiss, tail, tails, thomas erastus

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