The Great Comet of 1680

 

german comet broadside John Norris rare books

                                                                                     335 Years Ago

     The Great Comet of 1680 is known as Kirch's Comet and Newton's Comet, the former for the German astronomer Gottfried Kirch (1639-1710), who discovered it on 14 November 1680. It was the first comet to be discovered by telescope, and the latter because Isaac Newton (1642-1727) famously used the comet's trajectory to test Kepler's laws of planetary motion. 

 

     The comet was notable for its high visibility and especially long tail. It was supposedly visible even in daylight, with its peak brightness occurring on 29 December after emerging from behind the Sun, and was observed until the middle of March in 1681.

     This is a "broadsheet showing the comet in December 1680 over the town of Nuremberg. A version of this broadsheet with two columns of text is known in five surviving copies, all in German libraries. This is the only known exemplar of this variant, without the text, and with the title reset and date added for printing in this more compact 'handout' format.".--John A. Norris Rare Books**

 

*Of interest, this piece is now part of an exhibit at The University of Oklahoma entitled "Galileo's World"  For the virtual exhibit click here.

**Passed Time would like to thank John A. Norris Rare Books for the article (particulars about the astronomers, drawn from Wikipedia) and letting us use his image. 

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