A heavenly icy body subject to the sun's force of attraction, moving in a elliptical or parabolic orbit, which sometimes degenerates into a hyperbola leading to the escape of the comet from the solar system. At times comets are also moved into Sun-grazing orbits, resulting in their destruction.
A comet consists of a hazy gaseous cloud (called a coma) with a bright solid nucleus (center). The nucleus resembles a dirty snowball, made of ice of various types and also rock and dust particles. As it approaches the sun, radiation pressure causes the vaporization of some of its ice. The resulting gases and particles form the coma and a tail (or two) which usually points away from the sun.
Most comets are believed to originate in the Oort cloud located at large distance from the Sun. It consists of debris left over from the condensation of the solar nebula; the outer edges of nebulae are cool enough that water exists in a solid, rather than gaseous, state.
Comets have always had an ominous reputation. In ancient times they were regarded as messengers of impending doom, such as the end of the world. When Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC, there was a bright comet in the sky. Some said it foretold his death, and others said it carried Caesar's soul into heaven. In 1066 AD, King Harold put forward that the comet in the sky at the time was an evilomen of things to come. Shortly afterwards, he led his armies into battle against William the conqueror. He was defeated and even lost his life! When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 1631 AD, a comet in the sky was also blamed for it.
In modern times the superstition continued. In 1909 and 1910, major cities across the world fell into a panic over the appearance of Halley's Comet, and peddlers sold "anti-comet sickness pills" in the streets. In 1973 the 'Children of God' cult distributed pamphlets proclaiming that the Comet Kohoutek was sent to announce the end of the world, and in 1997 thirty-nine members of the religious group known as 'Heaven's Gate' committed suicide by drinking a poisonous cocktail. They believed that the coming of Comet Hale-Bopp was a sign that it was time for them to shed their earthly bodies, and that their spirits would take flight behind the comet, taking them to a higher plane of existence.
According to 19th-century folklore, a falling or shooting star is believed to be a sign that a child has just come into the world. The shooting star supposedly falls over the spot where the baby is born. Many also believe that a wish made quickly and with sincerity on the first star of the evening, or while a falling star streaks across the nighttime sky, will be granted. To others a falling star is thought to be an unlucky omen for those who witness it, even a presage of death (especially of men of great power), or an indication that someone close to you has just passed on.
This website is best viewed with the latest versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer or Firefox. Occultopedia makes extensive use of Flash and Scripting in its pages and interface. Make certain your browser permissions are set accordingly and that you have the latest Flash plug-in for the full experience, proper look and accurate layout. You can do it with confidence. This site does not contain any viruses, malicious software or scripts.
Occultopedia is the genuine article, the original and the best internet index of the extraordinary and uncanny, shamelessly copied by many, but never equaled. Online since 1995 at first in a free web space provider (Tripod.com), and in 1997 finally with its own domain name and hosting Occultopedia still is the principal online resource for those looking for the unexplained, the curious and the unusual.
Occultopedia respects your privacy. As
such, no cookies or any other tracking software will be installed as a
part of this website's original programming. I do not seek to obtain any personal information
beyond what is volunteered through electronic communications
(e.g. emails & forms).
Occultopedia may appear to be a for profit site, but my site is not in reality a commercial one. All of the commercial links are from affiliate programs, and the little revenue I get from these is to pay for hosting, bandwidth that can be quite costly if you have a lot of traffic, graphics and pages and any other expenses related to Occultopedia's upkeep, support, and maintenance. For more details, visit my ordering information page.
Occultopedia is a FREE online resource available to the whole world. Usage of my word definitions and articles by educational institutions, teachers and students alike, is here by granted. Reproduction for profit, and for display in another web site is strictly forbidden, and will be handled as copyright infringement and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. However, if you follow some simple guidelines, I will grant permission for limited reproduction. For more information, please consult my intellectual property rights, warranties and disclaimers information page. Support Occultopedia and make it your online shopping destination. If you prefer, you can also make a donation.
HELP FOOT THE BILL: this website is created and maintained by one guy, who also pays the hosting bill. Please donate if you like and/or use Occultopedia.
Participate in Occultopedia and submit a word
definition or article for the occult encyclopedia at my
page. If you would like to suggest a web site or page for
addition into Occultopedia's links database, please go to my
URL submission page.