Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | September 7, 2022

Curious Comets

(2 Minute Read. 7Sep2022)

Comet Hale-Bopp
April 1997

Comets are intriguing and amazing wonders of the Solar System. Nobody knows why comets exist or how they exist – other than that they result from the Great Creator‘s ingenious creativity.

What Are Comets?

Comets are dirty lumps of frozen gases, dust, and rock orbiting the sun. The main clump, called the nucleus, ranges from one mile to forty miles in diameter, although most nuclei are only about a mile in diameter.

The tail of a comet results from the melting action of the sun as the comet swings around the sun. The tail consists of dust and gas trailing behind the comet for millions of miles. With each orbit around the sun, a comet loses mass, and its nucleus gets smaller.

Wondrous Comets

Comet Encke, discovered in 1786, has the shortest orbital period of any known comet. It orbits the sun every 3.3 years and will next appear in October 2023. Its nucleus is about 3 miles across.

As the earth orbits around the sun, when the earth crosses a comet tail, we see meteors. The Perseids meteor shower each August originates from Comet Swift-Tuttle, which was independently discovered in 1862 by Lewis Swift and Horace Tuttle. Its nucleus is 16 miles across with an orbital period of 133 years. Swift-Tuttle last swung around the Sun in 1992 and will return again in 2125.

Comet Holmes, discovered in 1892, created a sensation in October 2007 when it suddenly became about half a million times brighter than normal. It briefly became the largest object in the Solar System when its coma, the thin surrounding envelope of dust and gas, expanded to a diameter greater than that of the Sun. The cause of the increased brightness and size is completely unknown. Astronomers have no idea what caused it. Could something like this have been the Star of Bethlehem that appeared at the birth of Jesus Christ (Matthew 2:1-11)?

Comet Holmes is a short-period comet with orbital period about 7 years. Comets with orbital periods under 200 years are termed short-period. The nucleus of Comet Holmes is about 2 miles across, and the longest diameter of its orbit is 7.2 AU, where one AU (Astronomical Unit) is the distance from the earth to the sun, about 93 million miles.

The Great Daylight Comet of 1910 appeared in January 1910. It was so bright that it outshone the planet Venus. Its appearance was a big surprise, as no one had discovered it nor expected it. It is a long-period comet with orbital period about 9,200 years. Its highly elliptical orbit has its longest diameter 880 AU.

In 1997 I myself saw the Hale-Bopp Comet, discovered by Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp independently in 1995 before it was visible to the naked eye. But I will never see Hale-Bopp again in this life. It is an example of a long-period comet with an orbital period of 2,534 years. It is a large comet with a nucleus about 37 miles in diameter.

Hale-Bopp was one of the brightest comets ever. It was visible to the naked eye for over 18 months, more than twice as long as any previous comet. Another suprising fact about Hale-Bopp is that its orbit is almost perpendicular to the plane of the earth’s orbit around the sun.

Why did Yahweh put comets in His Solar System? Are they some of His fingerprints? Do their surprising characteristics glorify the Great Creator?

O Lord how manifold are Thy works! In wisdom Thou hast made them all!
(Psalm 104:24)

The next two blog articles, Halley’s Comet and Halley’s Surprise, will reveal something remarkably surprising about the most famous of the Great Creator’s intriguing comets.

Questions to Ponder

1. Why do humans find comets so fascinating?
2. What is your guess about why God created comets? What is their purpose?

Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.

For Christ and His Kingdom.
Alere Flammam Veritatis.
Soli Deo Gloria.

Read the sequels:
Halley’s Comet
Halley’s Surprise
Fudging with Comets

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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
“for the defense of the gospel”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:5; Phil 1:16)
Wednesday September 7, 2022 A.D.

Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised,
And His greatness is unsearchable.
One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of Your majesty
And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate.
(Psalm 145:3-5)

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  1. Very interesting. Pursuing wonder can be revealing. Thanks for sharing.


  2. Wow, all I can say is this is mind blowing. So hard to understand and comprehend in our small minds.
    God is great and greatly to be praised.


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