The New Comet

24 01 2021

The astronomers have been caught napping, and a new and wonderful comet has made its appearance unheralded. The celestial visitor was first observed in this place on Sunday evening, soon after nine o’clock, and reports from other places show that it was its first appearance. It is still plainly visible in our northern sky, and savans are exercising all their ingenuity and learning to discover wat it is and whence it came. The astronomers at the Smithsonian Institute at Washington, pronounce it to be the great comet of Charles V. which last appeared in 1556, and which was expected to appear again in 1858, the time that Donatti’s comet was seen. On the other hand, Prof. Bond of the Cambridge Observatory says it is not the comet of 1556 or any other whose return has been anticipated. The facts in the case are that no one knows anything about it, and it must be some time before anything definite can be determined in regard to it. This new “wonder of the world” extends from the head of the Great Bear over an arc of one hundred and six degrees, and like the comet of 1858 t has two tails, the shorter or “brush” tail being much the brightest, and extending about twenty degrees. It has not yet been as brilliant as Donatti’s comet, and has not attracted so universal attention; but those who desire to get a sight at it had better “look quick,” as this wanderer through space may leave us as suddenly as it came. The superstitious throughout all ages of the world have regarded the appearance of a comet as portending a war or some dire calamity, and this must be regarded as the war comet of 1861. What it may foretoken we have no means of knowing, but at all events we of the North have nothing to bear. The comet is on our side.

(Windsor) Vermont Journal, 7/13/1861

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Go here to read other references to the comet on this site.