With Comet Hale-Bopp my interest in comets sky-rocketed. Then comet Linear came around and was a bust. I was curious how often comets grace our skies. This is a list of some very nice and important comets that I found in my reading.  If you have any information that I can add then please send it to WeatherFriend  I will constantly update this page with the latest in comets. 

Thanks for visiting!!! 

*NOTE: The name 'Great Comet' is not the same comet, but the best comet of that particular year that it was observed. *

 Years 240 B.C. to 11 B.C.
4 comets

Years 66 A.D. to 999 A.D.
  9 comets
Years 1000 to 1499
 8 comets
Years 1500 to 1599
 8 comets
Years 1600-1699
8  comets
Years 1700 to 1799
 11 comets
Years 1800 to 1849
24  comets
Years 1850 to 1899
 16 comets
Early Years of the 1900's
 8 comets
Years 1941 to 1970
 10 comets
Years 1972 to 1980's
8 comets
Years 1990's to 1995
  comets
Years 1995 to 2000
  comets
Years 2000 to Present
  comets

240 B.C. Halley's Comet  The comet received its name when Mr. Halley began to study comets. In 1705 he published a pamphlet titled "A Synopsis of the Astronomy". Halley forecasted that this particular comet would return every 76 years. When the comet did return it was named Halley because of his correct predictions. This comet is the parent comet to the Eta Aquarid and Orionid meteor showers. For more information on this meteor shower visit the Meteor Shower page. This record of the comet was made by the Chinese and is the earliest  comet record.

86 B.C. Halley's Comet   This was a bright appearance.

44 B.C. A bright comet appeared at the time of Julius Caesar's fall.

11 B.C. Halley's Comet  This was a bright appearance.

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66 A.D. Halley's Comet   This was a bright appearance with a magnitude of about -7.

141 Halley's Comet  This was a bright appearance.

218 Halley's Comet  This was a bright appearance.

295 Halley's Comet  This was a bright appearance.

374 A.D.  Halley's Comet   This event remained above magnitude 0 for 10 weeks.

451 A.D. Halley's Comet This appearance coincided with Attila the Huns fall.

530 Halley's Comet This was a bright appearance.

607 Halley's Comet  This was a bright appearance.

837 A.D. Halley's Comet This was a close approach of Comet Halley and it was very bright at this time.

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1059  Halley's Comet During the climax of a war between two Chinese kings, Wu-Wang and Chow Hsin, this very dominant comet was in the sky. The tail of this comet pointed east.

1066 Halley's Comet This visit occurred during the Norman Conquest of England. Terrified soldiers viewed this apparition before the Battle of Hastings. Bright appearance that lasted several weeks.

1092 Great Comet bright appearance that lasted several weeks. This comet reached about a magnitude of -3.

1264 Great Comet bright appearance that lasted several weeks. This comet reached about a magnitude of -1.

1273 three comets.

1402 Bright Comet bright appearance, with about a -5 magnitude, that lasted several weeks.

1433 C/1433 R1 was a bright appearance that lasted several weeks. The comet had a magnitude of -1 from September 15 through November 4.

1456 Halley's Comet

1472 C/1471 Y1 was a brilliant appearance that lasted several weeks. This comets magnitude was about -4 and it lasted from December 25, 1471 to February 21, 1472.

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1531  Halley's Comet

1531  Halley's Comet
1531  Halley's Comet

1531  Halley's Comet

1532 C/1532 R1 was a bright appearance that lasted several weeks. It was in the skies from September to December and had a peak magnitude of  -1. This comets orbit is very similar to that of Ikeya-Zhang, which was linked to the comet of 1661. 

1533 Apian bright appearance that lasted several weeks. This comet reached about magnitude -2.

1556 Great Comet

1558 Hesse-Gemma bright appearance that reached about magnitude -1.

1577 C/1577 V1 Tycho Brahe(1546-1601) studied this November comet. It remained above 0 magnitude for 10 weeks and reached a magnitude of about -8.

1582 Comet bright appearance that lasted several weeks. It reached a peak magnitude of about  -3.

1593 Ripensis bright appearance that reached about  magnitude -4.

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1607 Halley's Comet Shakespeare was writing 'Timon of Athens' when Halley's comet was in the skies.

1618 This year brought on three bright comets.

1661 1661 C1 was being studied by Halley and was thought to be the same comet as 1532 because their orbit is so similar. This comet was re-discovered on February 1, 2002, as Ikeya-Zhang. There is evidence that this comet may be also related to the comets of 1273 and 877.

1665 Hevelius was a bright appearance that lasted several weeks and reached a peak magnitude of about -4. 

1668 Gottignies bright appearance that lasted several weeks and reached a magnitude of about -5.

1677 Great Comet that reached magnitude -1.

1680 Kirch an extremely bright comet, reached almost -18 magnitude. (www.eso.org)

1682 Halley's Comet

1695 Jacob bright appearance that lasted several weeks. This comets peak reached about a magnitude of about -5. 

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1737 Bradley bright appearance that lasted several weeks and reached a peak of magnitude -2.

1744 C/1743 X1 bright appearance of about a -6 magnitude that lasted several weeks. Its was seen from late November to late April.

1758  Halley's Comet P/Halley 1P/1758 Y1. The perihelion of this apparition was on March 13, 1759.

1760 Great comet C/1760 A1 The perihelion of this comet was on December 17, 1759.

1762 C/1762 K1 Kinkenberg The perihelion of this comet was on May 28, 1762.

1769 C/Messier was bright appearance of about a -6 magnitude that lasted several weeks. This comet was seen from early August to early December.

1770 P/Lexell D/1770 L1 was a bright appearance that lasted several weeks and reached about magnitude -1.

1771 Great comet C/1771 A1 The perihelion of this apparition was on November 22, 1770.

1772 P/Biela 3D/1772 E1

1773 Great comet C/1783

1779  C/1779 A1 Bode

1786 Encke 2P/1786 Johann Franz Enche discovered this comet. The other years it was viewed was 1795, 1805, 1813, and 1822. There will be a flyby of this comet in November 2003. More information can be found at http://comets.amsmeteors.org/comets/pcomets/002p.html

1786  C/1786 P1 Herschel

1795 Encke 

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1801 Pons C/1801 

1801 Pons C/1804 E1

1802 Pons C/1802 Q1 

1805 Encke 2P/1805 U1

1807 This Great Comet was observed between early September to December. This comet had two tails and the longest tail was about 10 degrees long. 

1811 Comet Flaugergues appeared between April 1811 and January 1812. This comets tail was about 25 degrees long. More can be found at the American Meteor Society Great Comet of 1811. This comet was seen with the unaided eye. Two tails where observed with this comet, one straight and one curved.

1813 Encke

1818 A Great Comet was observed in July and the tail was about 7 degrees long. 

1819 Tralles Comet made a bright appearance that lasted several weeks. The comet appeared between late August between December and had a tail of about 14 degrees. The comet was seen with the unaided eye and reached about a magnitude -2.

1819 Tralles  

1821 C/Nicollet-Pons appeared with magnitude of about -7.

1822 Encke

1823 De Breaute-Pons was a bright comet that lasted several weeks and reached a peak of magnitude -2.

1825 7P/Pons-Winnecke  was discovered by Jean Louis Pons and  then again several years later by Friedrich  Winnecke. This comet was seen with the unaided eye. 

1827 D/1827 M1 (Pons-Gambart)

1830 Great Comet  of 1830 was observed between Mid-March to Mid-May and at its brightest  reached about magnitude -3.

1831 The Great Comet of 1831 was observed in January. This was a naked-eye object for about a month. 

1835 Halley's Comet Mark Twain born on November 30th. This was a naked eye object in the sky. 

1843 Great March Comet was a fragment of the Kreutz comet family. These fragments are sungrazers. This March comet was so bright that on February 28th, it could be seen all day close to the sun, with a 3  degree tail! Sky and Telescope say that it had around a -7 magnitude. This comet had a tail of 45 degrees and was observed from early February to early April. More can be found at http://cometography.com/lcomets/1843_D1.html

1844 Great comet was a bright appearance of about magnitude -1.

1847 Comet Hind was observed between late February and May. This comet had a tail that was a little more than 3 degrees long. The magnitude of Hind was about -5 and was seen with the unaided eye. This comet was available to telescopes during the day rather than at night.  

1889 Barnard 2 

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1853 C/Scweizer had a bright appearance which was at about magnitude -1.

1853 Comet Klinkerfues appeared between early August and early October. The was about 10 degrees long and the comet was seen with the unaided eye at about a magnitude of -1. 

1854 Great Comet lasted from mid-March to Mid April and had a tail 5 degrees long. This comet was seen with the unaided eye. 

1858 Donati's comet C/1858  appeared Mid-August to November and had two brilliant tails about 60 degrees long. This comet was seen with the unaided eye. 

1860 Great Comet lasted from mid-June to July and had a 20 degree tail. 

1861 John Tebbutt discovered the comet of 1861. Comet Tebbutt was observed in the skies from Mid-May to Mid-August. The tail was as long as 120 degrees and the comet was at about a magnitude -1. 

1862 Swift-Tuttle was discovered by Lewis Swift on July 15, 1862. On July 11, 2126 it will be closer to earth than it has ever been. This is the parent comet to the Perseid meteor shower, which occurs in August. For more information on this meteor shower go to the Meteor Shower page.

1865  Great Southern Comet was a bright appearance that lasted several weeks and reached about -8 magnitude.

1866 Tempel-Tuttle comet was discovered by William Tempel and Horace Tuttle. This is the parent comet of the Leonids, which occurs in November and gave many (including myself) an awesome display!

1874 or 1877 

In David H. Levy's book Comets Creators and Destroyers, he says this comet occurred in 1877. Information gathered from this book says that Coggia's comet  was a sungrazing comet. When the comet returned in September of 1882 it split into pieces. naked eye comet. 

In Carolyn Summer and Carlton Alan's book Cosmic Pinball The Science of Comets, Meteors, and Asteroids, it says that this comet occurred in 1874.  Information gathered from this book says Coggia was in the skies from early June to August and had two tails longer than 60 degrees. 

1880 In February the Great Southern Comet of 1880 had a  long 50 degree tail and a magnitude of about -6. This comet was a member of the Kreutz comet family.

1881 Great Comet appeared in late May to July. The tail was about 20 degrees. Also known as comet Tebbutt, it was a naked eye object. This was a Southern sky object. 

1882 Comet Wells was in the sky from late May to early July. The comet traveled in the skies with a tail of about 40 degrees and had a magnitude of about -5. 

1882-3 Great September Comet appeared between September 1882 and Mid-February of 1883. The comet had a 25 degree bright tail and reached close to -17 magnitude. This comet is a member of the Kreutz comet family and could be seen at perihelion at noon near sun with a small tail! (encke.jpl.nasa.gov)

1887 Yet another Great Southern Comet appeared in January with a tail of about 50 degrees long. This comet had a magnitude of about -4 and was a member of the Kreutz family.

1895 C/Perrine reached a peak of magnitude -2.

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1901 Great Comet was also known as Biscara. This was a naked-eye comet for the Southern Hemisphere.

1904 Comet Borrelly circles the sun every 6.9 years and was discovered in 1904.

1910  

Daylight Comet/ Winter Comet 1910a (The a indicates that this comet appeared in the sky in January). This comet had a brilliant tail that stretched out 50 degrees. One source puts this comet at a magnitude of -5 and it was seen during the day. There is also a mention of 'The Great Comet of 1910 by Robert Burnham in Great Comets. Another source for 1910a, is Comets Creators and Destroyers by David H. Levy

Another comet was mentioned in Cosmic Pin-Ball. This one occurred Mid-April to May. The gas tail was long at about 30 degrees, while the curved dust tail was about 10 degrees long. Source: Cosmic Pin-Ball by Carolyn Summers and Carlton Alan

Sometime during the year of 1910 Comet Halley made an appearance. The comet was very bright with a magnitude around 0 and a long tail of about 100 degrees. As predicted by Mark Twain in 1909 he would die with the next showing of Halley's comet and he did indeed pass away this year with the comet Halley in the sky. It was in the skies from February  to July. 

1911 Comet Brooks appeared, in late-August to late November, with a bluish, straight tail that reached up to 30 degrees long. This comet was seen with Comet Beliawsky to the unaided eye.

1911 Comet Beljawsky appeared late September to Late October and had a yellowish tail that was about 15 degrees long. This comet was seen with unaided eye in the sky with Brooks. 

1927 C/Skjellerup-Maristany C/1927 X1 had a magnitude of about -3 and was yellow in color. This comet appeared between November and December to those in the Southern Hemisphere. 

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1941 Mid-January to February Comet De Kock-Parashevopoulos and its faint 20 degree long tail was in the sky. This comet was seen with unaided eye and was mainly a Southern Hemisphere comet.

1941 Mid-January to February Comet De Kock-Parashevopoulos and its faint 20 degree long tail was in the sky. This comet was seen with unaided eye and was mainly a Southern Hemisphere comet.

1947 This Southern Comet was viewed in December only from the Southern Hemisphere. The tail was approximately 20-30 degrees long and reached a peak of magnitude of -3.

1948 The Eclipse Comet C/1948 V1 appeared early November to Mid-December. This comet was first spotted during a total solar eclipse. The comet's tail was curved and about 30 degrees long and the comet reached a peak of about magnitude -3 and was seen with the unaided eye for the Southern Hemisphere.

1957 This year had two bright comets. In the spring Comet Arend-Roland was in the sky. This comet had a tail 30 degrees long. This comet had an anti-tail pointing sunward, which was about 15 degrees long. Arend-Roland had a magnitude of about 1 and was seen with the unaided eye.

1957 Then in late July to September Comet Mrkos was in the sky. This comet had two tails one very bright tail was curved and at a length of about 15 degrees. Comet Mrkos was seen with the unaided eye.

1961 Comet Wilson-Hubbard was seen with naked-eye between Late July and very first of August. 

1962 Late February to April Comet Seki-Lines graced our skies with a dense, bright tail of about 15 degrees and reached a peak of about magnitude -2. 

1965 Early October to Mid-November Ikeya-Seki was in the sky. This comet was curved a little and it's dense tail grew to about 35 degrees in length. After perihelion it split.  Ikeya-Seki was, "visible for several months, bright enough to be seen well into the daylight hours" (Comets, Asteroids, and Meteorites by Time Life). The magnitude of the comet was about -10. Comet Ikeya-Seki is a member of the Kreutz comet family.

1969 Y1 Bennet was seen in 1970 with two tails and was a naked eye object. 

1970 Comet Bennett C/1969 Y1 was a naked eye object from February until Mid-May. It was discovered by John Bennett in late December of 1969. This comet had two tails and the longest tail was about 20 degrees long.

1970 White-Ortiz-Bolelli was in the sky from Mid-May to June. This comet's tail was about 13 degrees in length. Comet White-Ortiz-Bolelli is a member of the Kreutz sungrazing comet family and was seen only from the Southern Hemisphere.

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1973-74 Kohoutek appeared late November through January. The tail was very faint approximately 15 degrees long and reached a peak of about mag-3.

1976 Comet West C/1975 V1 appeared in late February to Mid-April 1976  This sungrazing comet broke apart with its approach. It split into 4 or 5 pieces. The dust tail was reddish and about 35 degrees long. Comet West was quite bright at about -3.5 magnitude and was briefly visible during the daytime. 

1978 Wild 2 was discovered by Paul Wild. This comet is due again in 2003.

1982 Comet 1982 was at perihelion until March 1986.

1983 IRAS (Infrared Astronomy Satellite), found a small comet which came close to earth. Genichi Araki and George Alcock, two amateur comet hunters, found the comet and the result was the name IRAS-Araki-Alock.

1984 Comet Brorsen-Melcalf's coma and tail were green in color. This was a telescope object.

1986 Halley's Comet appeared in the late Fall. The tail was reported to be approximately 20 degrees long.

1989 Okazaki-Levy-Rudenko

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1990 Comet Austin

1992 Swift-Tuttle

1993 Shoemaker-Levy  was seen crashing into Jupiter in July of 1994. This comet was a tremendous find and gave us a first class show of an impact. As the comet approached Jupiter we were treated further by seeing the comet break apart into a line of small comets, coined 'the string of pearls'. 

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1996 Tabor

1996 Hyakutake C/1996 B2 In Japan, Yuji Hyakutake discovered this comet just one month before it put on its big show. Five weeks after the discovery of the comet it traveled 16 million km from earth. SOHO images showed that the comet had three separate tails. The comet last appeared around 6000 B.C. and astronomers say that its trip will not bring it back until the year 18,000 AD. This comet was very long and bright at a magnitude of about 0. Photographs of the comet are quite beautiful, with a long blue tail. It was seen with unaided eye from early March until early June.

1997 HaleBopp 

Cloudcroft, New Mexico Alan Hale was scanning the skies for comets. As a comet hunter his great patience paid off that night that he discovered a comet like no other. The co-discovery, with Mr. Bopp, occurred in 1996 and the science community eagerly waited to see what kind of show the comet would give us. The comet graced our skies in the spring of 1997 with a blue gas tail approximately 20 degrees long and a curved yellow dust tail about 25 degrees long. Comet Hale-Bopp was bright at -1 magnitude and even gave people in light polluted areas a lovely view, although not as grand as from dark skies. Hale-Bopp remained above magnitude 0 for many weeks and remained a unaided eye object from July 1996 to October 1997. Perihelion was on 1997 April 1st.

This comet came to have two names that year, Hale-Bopp and the Great Comet of 1997. Scientists were astounded by the comet and calculations showed us that the comet last appeared around 2400 B.C.

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2001 LINEAR C/2001 A2 This comet was supposed to put on a show during the summer. Hopes were raised as increased activity on the comet as bursts caused it to brighten. However, this comet was a very faint and left astronomers a little disappointed.

2001 LINEAR  C/2000 WM1 was a faint comet. It was hoped to have been a very bright object, became a binocular object from dark skies. At the end of December it became a Southern Sky object. Late January the comet burst to life and hit a magnitude around 3. Southern sky watchers were treated to a great show. 

2002 C/2002 C1 Ikeya-Zhang was discovered on February 1, 2002, in the constellation Cetus. In Japan, Kaoru Ikeya found the comet. Shortly after in China, Daquig Zhang also spotted the comet. Perihelion will occur in March 18, 2002. The orbital properties of this comet are the same as the comet of 1661 and possibly of 1273 and 877.Forecasts originally put the comet at about a magnitude 4 or 5 at the brightest. Ikeya-Zhang reached about a magnitude of 3.4. The Northern Hemisphere got  their best views of the comet in late April as the comet glided from Cassiopeia to Cepheus and then Draco. Note: Kaoru Ikeya also co-discovered the comet Ikeya-Seki in 1965. Go to the Ikeya-Zhang page for more information including, charts, observations, and magnitude predictions. The photographs from this comet are incredible. In April the comet shifted from a evening to a morning object. Just as the comet was dimming it had an outburst that brought it back to a magnitude 3.4 then it began to dim again.

2002  Utsunomiya C/2002 F1  reached a magnitude at about 5.5. This comet joined Comet Ikeya-Zhang in the morning skies of April of 2002 

2002  Hoenig C/2002 O4  was discovered by Sabastian Hoenig as a 12 magnitude comet from Germany. As of 8/8/02 the comet was viewable all night at about a magnitude 8. This comet is predicted to reach about a magnitude of 6. 

2002  SOHO C/2002 O6  may reach a magnitude around 6. reaches perihelion sometime in September of 2003. The predicted magnitude at the comets brightest is 6, this will be a Southern object. 

2002 C/2002 T7 LINEAR  currently searching for latest information.

2002 C/2002 V1 NEAT November 6, 2002 this comet was discovered. Perihelion was February 18th, 2003. As of February 1st, the comet was in the constellation Pisces at about a magnitude of 5.5 The comet is brightening to a naked eye object but is very close to the sun. Photographs displayed on Spaceweather.com show the comet is very similar to Ikeya-Zhang in the way it looks. See my comet page for V1 NEAT for images and a report from Southern skies.

2004 C/2001 Q4 NEAT Possible bright comet C/2001 Q4 NEAT  was discovered August 24, 2001 and is predicted to become an unaided eye object between May-June 2004 at a magnitude of about 2. See C/2001 Q4 NEAT for more information

2004 C/2002 T7 NEAT Possible bright comet C/2002 T7 LINEAR was discovered August 24, 2002 and is predicted to become an unaided eye object between May-June 2004 at a magnitude of about 1. See C/2002 T7 LINEAR page for more information

2004 C/2004 Bradfield This comet was discovered and turned out to be a fairly impressive and  bright comet:)

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