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The 1900's
A Comet Captured on Film



A Comet Captured on Film
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.54

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    cyanogens, Hail-e, omen, methane, witness, certainty, arrival, theory, sightings, lifetime, orbit, saying, death, plot, traces, ammonia
     content words:    Edmond Halley, King Harold II, Bayeux Tapestry, Mark Twain


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A Comet Captured on Film
By Jane Runyon
  

1     The world was witness to a rare event in 1910. Halley's Comet was seen and photographed for the first time ever. Do you know the correct way to pronounce Halley? Today the preferred pronunciation rhymes with the word valley. A sometimes used pronunciation is "Hail-e." Halley's Comet has been making an appearance above Earth for quite a long time. Chinese astronomers recorded sightings of the comet as early as 2467 B.C. They reported a bright light in the sky followed by a sparkling tail.
 
2     Scientists have only recently been able to describe what makes up a comet with much certainty. Until space travel became available, they were just guessing. In 1986, scientists were able to put a space probe into position to take samples of Halley's Comet to be brought back to Earth and studied. The probe, Giotto, brought pieces of the comet to the scientists' labs. It was found that a comet is about 80% water, of the frozen variety. Nearly 10% of the comet is made of up of the gas carbon monoxide. The rest contains trace amounts of methane, ammonia, hydrocarbons, iron, and traces of sodium. Traces of cyanogens, poisonous gases, were also present.
 
3     Back in 1910, very little of what made up a comet was known. There was only one thing that scientists knew for certain. Halley's Comet made an appearance every 75-76 years. That's the average. On at least two recorded occasions, the time between sightings was over 79 years. The first person to realize that recorded sightings were the same comet was Edmond Halley. Through his studies, he realized that a pattern of time had elapsed between the events that were written in history. He began to plot the times at which people reported seeing this bright light in the sky. Halley developed his theory in 1705.

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The 1900's
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