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Comet Donati, 1858



RT has seen falling stars on a few moonless nights, but nothing like this, the appearance of Comet Donati in 1858. It must be a thrilling experience, to see the heavens brought so close to earth.

Wikipedia offers this vignette about Donati:

Abraham Lincoln, then a candidate for a seat in the U.S. Senate, sat up on the porch of his hotel in Jonesboro, Illinois to see “Donti’s Comet” on September 14, 1858, the night before the third of his historic debates with Stephen Douglas.

CD was the second brightest comet visible from earth during the 19th century; only the Great Comet of 1811 was brighter.

Lincoln, Douglas, and their generation are likely to preserve the memory of the comet’s beauty inviolate for some time; Comet Donati has an orbital period of 1,739 years.    RT


p.s. Actually, Comet Donati was the first comet to be photographed, but RT has not been able to find an online copy of the photographs…


Illustration: Comet Donati, 1858 (published 1888). Author and source: E. Weiss. WikiCmns. Public Domain.



  1. January 15, 2013 at 10:45 am

    Have you ever witnessed a proper full blown meteor shower? Super amazing. I wanted to chap every door in my street and shout ‘wake up!!!!’ Perhaps if I had been around in 1858 I would have!

    • January 17, 2013 at 5:42 am

      MLT: never seen a meteor shower; it’s a bucket-list item for me, tho… RT

  2. mj
    January 16, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Amazing thought…

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