Comets The passage of the comet Hale-Bopp through our part of the solar system created spectacular displays in the spring of 1997. Every newspaper, television and radio station carried some report with photos of the comet. We had a foretaste of the Hale-Bopp show when Comet Hyakutake passed close to the Earth in the spring of 1996. Hale-Bopp was one of the brightest comets to grace our skies this century, coming close to the displays put on by Comet West in 1976 and Halley's Comet in 1910. Many people were justifiably interested in Hale-Bopp---it was a gorgeous site! Many people also tuned into the news and astronomy web sites in the summer of 1994 when the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 smashed into the planet Jupiter. Predictions of Jupiter's demise were, of course, greatly exaggerated---Jupiter took the hits in stride. One view of comets as destroyers of worlds in 1857. (Original source unknown) King Harold and nation cower in fear at the close passage of Halley's Comet (picture from part of the
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