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Updated by Vaishnavi Kumar on Feb 05, 2018
Headline for Top 10 Most Popular Comets in History
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Top 10 Most Popular Comets in History

Astronomy has always fascinated us and every once in a while comets make themselves visible to us and the whole world watches. Here are the most popular comets in history.

1

Halley’s Comet

Halley’s Comet

Halley's Comet is a short-period comet visible from Earth every 74–79 years. Halley is the only known short-period comet that is regularly visible to the naked eye from Earth, and the only naked-eye comet that might appear twice in a human lifetime. Halley last appeared in the inner parts of the Solar System in 1986 and will next appear in mid-2061.

2

Comet McNaught

Comet McNaught

It was the brightest comet in over 40 years, and was easily visible to the naked eye for observers in the Southern Hemisphere in January and February 2007. With an estimated peak magnitude of −5.5, the comet was the second brightest since 1935.

3

Comet Hale–Bopp

Comet Hale–Bopp

Comet Hale–Bopp (formally designated C/1995 O1) is a comet that was perhaps the most widely observed of the 20th century, and one of the brightest seen for many decades.

4

Hyakutake

Hyakutake

It was dubbed The Great Comet of 1996; its passage near the Earth was one of the closest cometary approaches of the previous 200 years. Hyakutake appeared very bright in the night sky and was widely seen around the world. The comet temporarily upstaged the much anticipated Comet Hale–Bopp, which was approaching the inner Solar System at the time.

5

Shoemaker Levy-9

Shoemaker Levy-9

Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 was a comet that broke apart in July 1992 and collided with Jupiter in July 1994, providing the first direct observation of an extraterrestrial collision of Solar System objects. This generated a large amount of coverage in the popular media, and the comet was closely observed by astronomers worldwide.

6

Swift-Tuttle

Swift-Tuttle

Comet Swift–Tuttle is a periodic comet with a current (osculating) orbital period of 133 years. It fits the classical definition of a Halley-type comet with a period between 20 and 200 years.

7

Lexell’s Comet

Lexell’s Comet

Lexell's Comet was a comet discovered by astronomer Charles Messier in June 1770. It is notable for having passed closer to Earth than any other comet in recorded history, approaching to a distance of only 0.015 astronomical units (2,200,000 km; 1,400,000 mi). The comet has not been seen since 1770 and is considered a lost comet.

8

Comet Lovejoy

Comet Lovejoy

In November 2011, Australian observer Terry Lovejoy discovered a faint +13th magnitude object. Comet C/2011 W3 Lovejoy was a Kreutz sun grazer, one of a handful seen each year. It surprised astronomers, however, when it survived its fiery plunge just 87,000 miles above the Sun’s surface (about a third the distance between the Earth and Moon) to become a fine morning object for Southern Hemisphere observers, similar to Ikeya-Seki in the 1960s.

9

Comet Borrelly

Comet Borrelly

After Halley’s Comet, Comet Borrelly was only the second to be spied close-up by a spacecraft. NASA’s Deep Space 1 paid a visit in 2001 and gave researchers a detailed glimpse of the comet’s pitch black core. Its snapshots revealed that the rocky nucleus is shaped like a giant 8-kilometre-long bowling pin, and the entire comet is curiously lopsided.

10

Tempel-Tuttel

Tempel-Tuttel

Temple Tuttle is the progenitor of the annual Leonid meteor shower. Thousands of shooting stars streak across the night sky every November, as the Earth passes through the dust particles and rocky meteoroids haphazardly shed by the comet.