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jewelry glossary

Antique jewelry glossary

Welcome to our extensive antique jewelry glossary with around 1,500 jewelry related entries.If you feel you are missing an explanation, feel free to let us know and we will add it.

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Halley's Comet

Both in 1935 and in 1910 the appearance of Halley's Comet was an important source of inspiration for jewelers of that time. Many examples of "comet-jewelry" in the Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco styles are know.

Halley's Comet, officially designated 1P/Halley and also referred to as Comet Halley after Edmond Halley, is a comet that can be seen every 75-76 years. It is the most famous of all periodic comets. Although in every century many long-period comets appear brighter and more spectacular, Halley is the only short-period comet that is clearly visible to the naked eye, and thus, the only naked-eye comet certain to return within a human lifetime. Halley's Comet last appeared in the inner Solar System in 1986, and will next appear in mid 2061.

Edmond Halley's study

Halley's Comet was the first comet to be recognized as periodic. Perceiving that the observed characteristics of the comet of 1682 were nearly the same as those of two comets which had appeared in 1531 (observed by Petrus Apianus) and 1607 (observed by Johannes Kepler in Prague), Halley concluded that all three comets were in fact the same object returning every 76 years (a period that has since been amended to every 75-76 years). After a rough estimate of the perturbations the comet would sustain from the attraction of the planets, he predicted its return for 1758. Halley's prediction of the comet's return proved to be correct, although it was not seen until 25 December 1758 by Johann Georg Palitzsch, a German farmer and amateur astronomer, and did not pass through its perihelion until March 13, 1759; the attraction of Jupiter and Saturn having caused a retardation of 618 days, as was computed by a team of three French mathematicians, Alexis Clairault, Joseph Lalande, and Nicole-Reine Lepaute, previous to its return. Halley did not live to see the comet's return, having died in 1742.

Recent history of Halley's comet

The most recent appearances have been in 1835, 1910, and 1986. Halley will next return in 2061.


American satirist and writer Mark Twain was born on November 30, 1835, exactly two weeks after the comet's perihelion. In his biography, he said, "I came in with Halley's comet in 1835. It's coming again next year (1910), and I expect to go out with it. The Almighty has said no doubt, 'Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.' " Twain died on April 21, 1910, the day following the comet's subsequent perihelion.


The April 1910 approach, which came into view around April 20, was notable for several reasons: it was the first approach of which photographs exist, and the comet made a relatively close approach, making it a spectacular sight. Indeed, on May 18, the media, despite the pleas of astronomers, wove sensational tales of mass cyanide poisoning engulfing the planet. In reality, the gas is so diffuse that the world suffered no ill effects from the passage through the tail. Many people who claim to remember seeing the 1910 apparition are probably in fact remembering a different comet, the Great Daylight Comet of 1910, which surpassed Halley in brilliance and was actually visible in broad daylight for a short time about four months before Halley made its appearance.

From: Wikipedia

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