back to article Halley's Comet has begun its long trek back toward Earth

Halley's Comet, officially 1P/Halley, has begun its long journey back towards Earth after making it to aphelion – the point in its orbit farthest from the Sun – on December 9. For Halley, that point is so far away, it extends past the orbit of Neptune. The famous comet is slated to sling back by Earth in the year 2061. Its …

  1. Steve K


    <quote> Humanity is yet to land a spacecraft on anything like a comet, </quote>

    I am pretty sure that the Rosetta/Philae mission landed on a comet - more than once as I recall?

    The Philae probe bounced into the shadows, and Rosetta was deorbited onto the surface at the end of the mission to 67-P/Churyumov/Getasimenko

  2. david 12 Silver badge


    One of the reasons the last visit was disappointing was that it wasn't just over-hyped -- it was misdirected.

    As heralded by the press, we were all waiting for the closest approach, when it was nearest, and, as should have been predicted, opposite to us from the Sun. So the glorious tail was pointing away from you when you finally went out to have a look. Those few, like my dad, who actually went out a month early and looked through binoculars got to see a proper comet-looking comet. He was no astronomer, and didn't predict that it would be boring later on.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Disappointing

      I saw it then, and I have every expectation of seeing it again in 2061 if my eyes are still working: I'll be a hundred and one.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Disappointing

        Same here.

        Missing it once in a lifetime is unfortunate, missing it twice would be careless - though being dead sounds like a reasonable excuse

        1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Re: Disappointing

          Missing it once in a lifetime is unfortunate, missing it twice would be careless - though being dead sounds like a reasonable excuse

          The latter will probably be relevant for me. There are no centenarians in my family, nobody's got past 80 which would leave me nearly 30 years short.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Disappointing

        But there won't be any humans left by that time...

    2. Sam not the Viking Silver badge

      Re: Disappointing

      I was visiting South Africa on business when it last appeared. It was spectacular when after an hour, we started looking in the right direction! I hope to be around at its return but the odds are not in my favour.

      A portent of omens, it was truly an auspicious time. Soon after my return to the UK I was made redundant. In retrospect, but not at the time, this was a good thing.

      1. Youngone Silver badge

        Re: Disappointing

        I was working night shift in semi-rural New Zealand at the time, and walked home every night under Halley's. I can confirm, it absolutely was spectacular, not "...more of a dim smudge in the sky that could not be seen with the naked eye." as the article says.

    3. Citizen99

      Re: Disappointing

      I worked on the ESA Giotto probe. I would be 120 for It's successor; posthumous good wishes for a successor :-)

  3. Aladdin Sane

    No mention of Odyssey Three?

    For shame.

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "Scientists believe Halley has been around at least 16,000 years"

    After 16000 years of losing mass to the Sun's stellar wind and energy, I would think that Halley's comet doesn't have much more mass to lose so spectacularly.

    Anyone know its mass ? There must be loads of ice on it, but there can't be 16000 more years of ice left. How much longer can it have ?

    1. PK

      Re: "Scientists believe Halley has been around at least 16,000 years"

      If Halley does the average 1000 orbits, then it's about a quarter of the way through its 76,000 years (assuming all these estimates are correct of course)

    2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: "Scientists believe Halley has been around at least 16,000 years"

      "The astronomer predicted its reappearance in 1705 based on recorded observations in intervals going back at least 2,000 years." - we have records going back 2,000 years but we've probably been watching it for at least 100,000 years.

      I bet it has helped humans start to understand the universe.

  5. HuBo

    Oh the memories ...

    Just saw a large shooting star at Géminides (Dec. 15), straight above, always impressive! That next Hailey's pass though I'll be in my mid-nineties and likely in need of some very strong glasses to see it through several layers of wooden planks, and granite (or not?)!

    As for the bataille d'Hastings; Ah, the good ol' days! When Guillaume le Conquérant marched his way from Normandie to London to become king of England by Christmas 1066, after the king of Norway's failed attempt at this. Good times (and great view of the comet!)!

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Oh the memories ...

      You've got to feel a bit sorry for Harold Godwinson having to cope with two invaders in the one year even if it was a strategic error not to spend a few days recouping instead of going straight into the battle of Senlac Hill.

      1. Citizen99

        Re: Oh the memories ...

        I suppose it was a wrong judgement call, surprise by speed versus recuperation.

      2. Bebu Silver badge

        Re: Oh the memories ...

        My favourite from the Haralds Saga is at Stamford bridge when Harold Godwinson was ask by his own brother Tostig

        what Harold would be willing to give [Harald] Hardrada for his trouble?

        to which Harold Godwinson replied

        "Seven feet of English ground, as he is taller than other men."

        Didn't make proper english kings after Harald. Shame his wyrd was such that he wasn't the king for very long.

    2. 42656e4d203239 Silver badge

      Re: Oh the memories ...

      >>Guillaume le Conquérant

      Guillaume le Bâtard to his chums...

  6. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    Being in Australia, I saw Halley’s Comet in high and clear detail.

    We stayed in a ski resort relatively high up in the Victorian Alps.

    Clear night skies topped everything off.

    Magnificent, but I’ve no chance of a repeat.

  7. Uncle Ron

    Will We Be Here

    I wonder if anyone will be here in 2061 to see it. And if there are any people, will they have been educated well enough to even look for it? The far-right doesn't seem to care much about education.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hopefully in 37 years, it smashes into the planet. We need an extinction level event to sort everything out...

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Are you thinking that this would mean everyone would not have to update their versions of Windows and Google Drive? I sort of agree with solving those problems but I think software updates are not quite as bad as a planetary impact at that level ... although certainly we would not need new computers and Pixel phones after it happened.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        It's just a celestial form of percussive maintenance.

        Sometimes a system needs a very hard reset with an appropriately sized hammer.

        1. kend1

          Immigrant Song

          Will be playing that song [with amps turned up to 11] when the hammer of the gods hits. And the levee breaks.

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