Earth, Moon, and Planets

, Volume 66, Issue 2, pp 231–238 | Cite as

The frequency of appearance of bright naked eye comets since 1750

Are bright comets less frequent in the 20th Century?
  • Mark R. Kidger


It is a typical lament of the astronomers of today that there has been a dearth of bright comets in the 20th century and, particularly in its latter half. Many go on to point out the large number of very bright comets that were observed in the 18th and 19th century to reinforce the unfavourable comparison with modern times. Analysis of bright naked eye comet apparitions since 1750 demonstrates that there was a superavit of very bright comets in the second half of the last century. The second half of the twentieth century has shown exactly the average of one bright naked eye comet per 2.5 years that has been seen over two and a half centuries. The probable cause of theapparent lack of bright comets is the great increase in light pollution and the shift of population to the big cities. The observed statistics for the appearance of bright comets show no obvious evidence of perturbations of the Kuiper Belt by Planet X.


19th Century Twentieth Century Great Increase Modern Time Half Century 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark R. Kidger
    • 1
  1. 1.Instituto de Astrofísica de CanariasTenerifeSpain

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