Wakacje to czas wolny i moment na zachwycanie się przyrodą. Letnie wieczorne spacery dają wytchnienie po całodziennych upałach. Piękne, rozgwieżdżone, noce wywołują do wyjścia z domów i skłaniają do podziwiania nieboskłonu. A ten piękny granatowy ekran daje nam wiele momentów do zachwytu. Na pytanie „Co ukrywają gwiazdy?” próbuje odpowiedzieć Ania Ciszelska, uczennica klasy (już) 4c, w swoim artykule, który pojawi się w letnim numerze magazynu AimHigh.

What do the stars hide?

A long time ago in our galaxy…
In the 17th century lived a man named Edmond Haley. He was an English astronomer, mathematician, physicist and the second Astronomer Royal in Britain. His most famous achievement was computing the comet’s periodicity, now called Halley’s Comet. He did not discover it, but he was the first one who suggested that the comet observed in 1682 was the same that had previously been seen in 1456, 1531 and 1607.
The Halley’s Comet’s official designation is 1P/Halley. It is the only known short-period (less than 200 years) comet that people can see with the naked eye from Earth. The oldest documented observations of this comet come from China in 613 BC. But before and after that year there were many observations, like in Greece or Babilon – probably only a few of them are true.
Halley’s appearance in 12 BC, only a few years before the assigned date of the birth of Jesus Christ, has led some theologians and astronomers to the theory that it could explain the story of the Star of Bethlehem. Of course, there are many other explanations for that phenomenon – planet conjunction or another comet.
Some of the other appearances of Halley’s Comet were said to be a bad omen. In the 451 AD apparition of this comet was said to herald the defeat of Attila the Hun at the Battle of Chalons. In 1066 the comet was seen in England and later in this year, Harol II of England died at the Battle of Hastings.
Halley’s periodic returns have been subject to scientific investigation since the 16th century. The three apparitions from 1531 to 1682 were noted by Edmond Halley, which made it possible to predict when it would return. With Newton’s ideas of the laws of motion and his help in getting John Flamsteed’s data Halley was able to conclude these were the same comet and presented his findings in 1696.
In the XX century, the comet came close to Earth twice – in 1910 and 1986. During the second appearance, Halley’s comet became the subject of studies. Because of that space were sent few space probes: Vega 1, Vega 2, Giotto, Suisei, Sakigake and ICE. Thanks to the Giotto probe scientists could make many measurements of the chemical composition of the comet’s head, tail, and core. Furthermore, for the first time, photos of the core were taken from a distance of several hundred kilometres.
On December 9, 2023, Halley’s Comet was at its aphelia (the point farthest from the Sun), so it has been approaching us again for half a year. It will reach the Sun and Earth in July 2061 and again in March 2134.
But do we have to wait that long? Maybe not – from time to time, other comets appear, which are not periodic comets. They come to us from distant areas of our Galaxy without announcement and are sometimes very well visible to the naked eye even from a large city like Wrocław. In recent years, two very bright comets could be seen in our city: Hale-Bopp in 1997 and C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) in 2020.
So let’s look carefully at the sky because we don’t know what the stars are hiding.

Ania Ciszelska (4c)