ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Donati's Comet of 1858, illustrations. Discovered in June of 1858 by the Italian astronomer Giovanni Battista Donati (1826-1873), this comet reached its closest point to the Earth on 10 October 1858. Many drawings and artworks were made of this comet, one of the brightest and most spectacular of the 19th century and the first to be photographed. 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. The artworks show observations made by Jesuit astronomers in September and October 1858, using the Merz equatorial at the Collegio Romano, Rome, Italy.
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