• The Great Comet of 1843
    The Great Comet of 1843
  • WordNet 3.6
    • n comet (astronomy) a relatively small extraterrestrial body consisting of a frozen mass that travels around the sun in a highly elliptical orbit
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Additional illustrations & photos:


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: The word "comet" comes from the Greek word "kometes" meaning long hair and referring to the tail
    • n Comet (Astron) A member of the solar system which usually moves in an elongated orbit, approaching very near to the sun in its perihelion, and receding to a very great distance from it at its aphelion. A comet commonly consists of three parts: the nucleus, the envelope, or coma, and the tail; but one or more of these parts is frequently wanting. See Illustration in Appendix.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
  • Interesting fact: The Great Comet of 1843 had a tail that was over 300 kilometres long.
    • n comet One of a class of celestial bodies which move about the sun in greatly elongated orbits, usually elliptical or parabolic. The typical comet, as it approaches the sun, has the appearance of a bright star-like point (the nucleus) surrounded by a mass of misty light (the coma), which is extended away from the sun into a stream of light (the tail) reaching a length of from 2° to 90°. Comets which follow a parabolic orbit appear but once, their orbit being infinite, and are called parabolic comets; those moving in ellipses return periodically, and are called periodic comets. The fact of the periodicity of some comets was first established by Halley with reference to the comet of 1682. The paths in which they move are not, like those of the planets, all nearly in the same plane as the orbit of the earth, but are inclined to that orbit at all angles; and their motion along their paths, though generally direct, that is, in the same direction as that of the earth and the other planets, is sometimes retrograde. Some comets have no nucleus; and this is the case with every one while it is still very remote, when it appears as a mere nebulous patch. In this state it is called a telescopic comet. As it approaches the sun, the nucleus is gradually formed as a central but not sharply defined point of light; later, the tail, consisting of vaporous matter driven back by some repellent influence of the sun, often with enormous velocity, is formed; and lastly, if the comet is a bright one, a series of bright envelops rise successively from the nucleus, each extending back into the tail, and gradually disappearing. The matter of which comets are composed is so transparent that the faintest stars are seen through them without the slightest diminution of their luster. Of their physical constitution little is definitely known. The most remarkable discovery of recent times regarding them is the identity of the course of some of them with the orbit of certain showers of shooting stars. This was first demonstrated by the Italian astronomer Schiaparelli, who proved the agreement between the orbit of the great comet of 1862 and that of the star-shower seen annually about August 1st–10th. Very remarkable comets appeared in 1456, 1680, 1811, 1841, 1858 (Donati's), 1861, and 1874. They have always been objects of superstitious fear. See cut under envelop.
    • n comet In heraldry, same as blazing-star.
    • n comet One of a group of humming-birds with long forked tails: as, the Sappho comet, Cometes sappho; the Phaon comet, Cometes phaon.
    • n comet A game of cards, somewhat like speculation, invented and popular in the reign of Louis XV. of France.
    • n comet In photography, a comet-shaped defect appearing on gelatin dry plates.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: Santa's reindeer are: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen.
    • n Comet kom′et a heavenly body with an eccentric orbit, having a definite point or nucleus, a nebulous light surrounding the nucleus, and a luminous tail preceding or following the nucleus
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  • Bible
    “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comet in the morning. [Psalms 30:5]”
  • Ann Landers
    “Sensual pleasures have the fleeting brilliance of a comet; a happy marriage has the tranquillity of a lovely sunset.”
  • Bible
    “The wisdom of a learned man comet by opportunity of leisure: and he that hath little business shall become wise. [Ecclesiasticus 38:25]”
  • Bible
    “I must work the work of him that sent me while it is day; for the night comet when no man can work.”
  • Desiderius Erasmus
    “[Only by] the good influence of our conduct may we bring salvation in human affairs; or like a fatal comet we may bring destruction in our train.”


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
L. cometes, cometa, from Gr. comet, prop. long-haired, fr. to wear long hair, fr. hair, akin to L. coma,: cf. F. comète,
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
Gr. komētēs, long-haired—komē, the hair.


In literature:

He appeared quite suddenly, like a comet.
"Masques & Phases" by Robert Ross
What's the matter, Comet?
"The Story of a Nodding Donkey" by Laura Lee Hope
While he arranged the details of the silver wine-pail in the other room, the chef asked him if the Princess Comet had arrived.
"Visionaries" by James Huneker
Then we lock arms and sweep through space, the northern lights curtaining overhead, the stars for torches, and the blazing comets heralding a way.
"Heralds of Empire" by Agnes C. Laut
In fact, I almost forgot my awful situation in the interest awakened by the phenomena of the comet.
"Other Worlds" by Garrett P. Serviss
No comet that has revisited the sun, has given astronomers more trouble than the great comet of 1843.
"Outlines of a Mechanical Theory of Storms" by T. Bassnett
He was sweeping the heavens for comets when this star came within his vision.
"Little Journeys to the Homes of the Great - Volume 12" by Elbert Hubbard
I answer that there have been some alterations observed there; witnesse those comets which have beene seene above the Moone.
"The Discovery of a World in the Moone" by John Wilkins
The Adventure With The Comet.
"Edison's Conquest of Mars" by Garrett Putman Serviss
While there were many persons connected with the Comet Film Company, there were certain principals who did most of the work.
"The Moving Picture Girls" by Laura Lee Hope

In poetry:

Ye county comets, that portend
No war nor prince's funeral,
Shining unto no higher end
Than to presage the grass's fall;
"The Mower To The Glow-Worms" by Andrew Marvell
"If thou never on thy track
Turn thee round and hie thee back,
Thou wilt wander evermore,
Outcast, cold—a comet hoar!"
"Faith" by George MacDonald
"Yonder comet a prod potter," seyde Roben,
"That long hayt hantyd this wey;
He was never so corteys a man
On peney of pawage to pay."
"Robin Hood And The Potter" by Andrew Lang
There the comets, vast and streaming,
Punctuate the heavens' gleaming
Scroll; and suns, gigantic, shine,
Periods to each starry line.
"Processional" by Madison Julius Cawein
Before the sun, the moon, the earth,
Before the stars or comets free,
Before e'en time has had its birth,
I was, I am, and I will be.
"The Song Of The Free" by Swami Vivekananda
White doves, like the thoughts of a lady,
Haunted it all about;
With a train of green and blue comets
The peacock went marching stout.
"The Old Garden" by George MacDonald

In news:

Comets, Royal-Raiders perform well before break.
The Genoa Comets soared past Bishop Ready 42-21 Friday night.
Comets blank Raiders to end regular season.
The Comets scored three minutes into the first half and again in the 60th minute and 70th.
Comet girls bow out in regional quarterfinals.
The Comets can't dig themselves out of a 20-point hole against Wilmington New Hanover.
Dukes, Comets wrestlers go 0-2.
Comet girls set stage for bright future.
Comets and Raiders turn in brilliant outings at state qualifying meet.
The dazzling light show was not created by a meteor or comet.
And the demise of Comet.
Orionid meteors hit peak in Halley's Comet tribute show.
Cold shooting hurts Comet boys in losses.
UMHB Men Edges UT-Dallas, Women Fall To Comets.
Bombers, Comets combine to send seven to state.

In science:

If one of the current theories of the origin of life from comets is correct, laboratory studies of comet dust grains immersed in water may give direct indications of prebiotic chemical evolution.
Cosmic Dust in the 21st Century
The evidence is that dust is one of the basic ingredients in comets.
Cosmic Dust in the 21st Century
There is growing evidence from cometary observations that comets are a storage place for the chemical evolution which takes place in interstellar space.
Cosmic Dust in the 21st Century
The current ground based observations of the volatile composition of comets implies a close connection with the ices of interstellar dust.
Cosmic Dust in the 21st Century
The most pristine relics of the early solar system are comets.
Cosmic Dust in the 21st Century