Friday 11 September 2015

Astrognome Scrapbook Jamestown and Halley's Comet

Jamestown and Halley’s Comet

Roughly 100 colonists left England in late December 1606 on three ships. On May 14th, 1607, they landed on a narrow peninsula, where they would begin their lives in the New World.A settlement which initially consisted of a wooden fort built in a triangle around a storehouse for weapons and other supplies, a church and a number of houses were built. The settlers would struggle with hunger, illness and the threat of attack by local native tribes.

Just a few months later on September 11th 1607 an old friend appeared in the sky. A comet which we know today as Halley’s Comet but of course at that time Halley had yet to be born.

It was discovered by Kepler in Prague and was of the first magnitude so it was bright. The comet which at first had no tail, it was described as looking ‘pale and watery’. The tail when it did form was described as being long and bright.
It passed through Ursa Major, Bootes, Serpens and Ophiuchus. It was last seen in Europe on October 26th 1607.

The comet although discovered in Europe would have been visible to those settlers in Jamestown. It is interesting to imagine what those early settlers must have thought when they saw this comet in the sky. This was just after they had built their settlement. And of course this was at a time when many people were very superstitious and believed  that comets bought bad lack and were the bringers of doom and despair.


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