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Donati's Comet, as seen from the Cambridge Observatory, on October 11, 1858. Creator: Smyth

Donati's Comet, as seen from the Cambridge Observatory, on October 11, 1858. Creator: Smyth


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Donati's Comet, as seen from the Cambridge Observatory, on October 11, 1858. Creator: Smyth

Donati's Comet, as seen from the Cambridge Observatory, on October 11, 1858. As it but seldom happens that such a favourable opportunity occurs for examining the changes which take place in the head and nucleus of a large comet approaching to and receding from the sun as in the magnificent object which has just disappeared from sight, a few particulars respecting those may not be misplaced in the columns of the Illustrated London News...On the night of Oct. 11 it presented much the same appearance as on the 9th, with the exception that two bright rays were noticed as proceeding from the nucleus, which projected halfway across the luminous fantail'. From "Illustrated London News", 1858

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Media ID 36376864

© The Print Collector/Heritage Images

Cambridge Cambridgeshire England Comet Donati Giovanni Giovanni Donati Leitch Richard Leitch Richard Principal Night Sky Observatory Pointing Richard Leitch Richard Principal Leitch Smyth Spectators Stars


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EDITORS COMMENTS
Donati's Comet, as seen from the Cambridge Observatory, on October 11, 1858: A Glimpse into the Transient Beauty of the Cosmos As the veil of night descended upon the skies of Cambridge, England, on October 11, 1858, a rare and wondrous sight unfolded before the eyes of the astronomical community. Donati's Comet, named after its Italian discoverer, Giovanni Donati, presented itself in all its ethereal splendor at the Cambridge Observatory, an event that seldom afforded such a clear and unobstructed view of the comet's ever-changing features as it approached and then receded from the sun. The Illustrated London News, in its October 23, 1858, edition, reported on the comet's appearance, describing it as follows: "On the night of Oct. 11, it presented much the same appearance as on the 9th, with the exception that two bright rays were noticed as proceeding from the nucleus, which projected halfway across the luminous fantail." This image, captured by the skillful hand of Smyth, offers a glimpse into the awe-inspiring scene that transpired that fateful night. The principal of the Cambridge Observatory, Richard Leitch, and his colleagues, along with an attentive crowd of spectators, gathered around to bear witness to the celestial event. The trees and plants in the foreground, bathed in the soft glow of the moon and stars, serve as a poignant reminder of the fleeting nature of time and the enduring allure of the night sky. As we gaze upon this engraving, we are transported back to a time when the wonders of the universe captivated the collective imagination of the world. The image stands as a testament to the power of scientific inquiry and the human spirit's insatiable curiosity, inviting us to ponder the mysteries of the cosmos and the beauty that lies within.

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