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Babylonian Inscription

A comet arose whose body was bright like the day, while from its luminous body a tail extended, like the sting of a scorpion.

In John Brandt and Robert Chapman Introduction to Comets Chapter 1 (p. 4)

Byron, George Gordon

The angels all were singing out of tune, And hoarse with having little else to do, Excepting to wind up the sun and moon, Or curb a runaway young star or two, Or wild colt of a comet, which too soon Broke out of bounds o'er the ethereal blue, Splitting some planet with its beautiful tail, As boats are sometimes by a wanton whale.

The Complete Poetical Works of Byron The Vision of Judgment de Fontenelle, Bernard Le Bovier

These foreign planets, with their tails and their beards, have a terrible menacing countenance, it may be they are sent to affront us...

Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds The Fifth Evening (p. 173)

We think ourselves unhappy when a comet appears; but it is the comet itself which is unfortunate.

Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds The Fifth Evening (p. 175)

Dick, Thomas

Whatever opinions we may adopt as to the physical constitution of comets, we must admit that they serve some grand and important purpose in the economy of the universe; for we cannot suppose that the Almighty has created such an immense number of bodies, and set them in rapid motion according to established laws, without an end worthy of his perfection, and, on the whole, beneficial to the inhabitants of the system through which they move.

The Sidereal Heavens and Other Subjects Connected with Astronomy, As Illustrative of the Character of the Deity and of an Infinity of Worlds

...what I conceive to be one of the main designs of the Creator in the formation of such a vast number of splendid bodies is, that they may serve as habitations for myriads of intelligent beings...If this position be admitted, then we ought to contemplate the approach of a comet, not as an object of terror or harbinger of evil, but as a splendid world, of a different construction from ours, conveying millions of happy beings to survey a new region of the Divine empire. . .

The Sidereal Heavens and Other Subjects Connected with Astronomy, As Illustrative of the Character of the Deity and of an Infinity of Worlds

Donne, John

Who vagrant transitory comets sees, Wonders because they're rare; but a new star Whose motion with the firmament agrees, Is miracle; for there no new things are.

In Charles M. Coffin (ed.) The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose ofJohn Donne To the Countess of Huntingdon (p. 169)

Halley, Edmond

Aristotle's opinion. ..that comets were nothing else than sublunary vapors or airy meteors. ..prevailed so far amongst the Greeks, that this sublimest part of astronomy lay altogether neglected; since none could think it worthwhile to observe, and to give an account of the wandering and uncertain paths of vapours floating in the Aether.

Transactions of the Royal Society of London Astronomiae Cometicae Synopsis (p. 1882) Volume 24, Number 297, March 1705

Holmes, Oliver Wendell

The Comet! He is on his way,

And singing as he flies;

The whizzing planets shrinks before

The spectre of the skies...

The Complete Poetical Works of Oliver Wendell Holmes

The Comet Stanza 1

Lee, Oliver Justin

Dynamically it is quite possible that great numbers of comets were once well-behaved members of the solar system and that they have been bullied and kicked around gravitationally by the great planets and by possible dark bodies in space that they have become the pariahs they are.

Measuring Our Universe: From the Inner Atom to Outer Space

Levy, David H.

Comets are like cats: they have tails, and they do precisely what they want.

Comets Preface (p. 13)

Maunder, E. Walter

Comets cannot be homes of life; they are not sufficiently condensed; indeed, they are probably but loose congeries of small stones. But even if comets were of planetary size it is clear that life could not be supported on them; water could not remain in the liquid state on a world that rushed from one such extreme of temperature to another.

Are the Planets Inhabited? Chapter IX (pp. 119-20)

Peltier, Leslie C.

I had watched a dozen comets, hitherto unknown, slowly creep across the sky as each one signed its sweeping flourish in the guest book of the Sun.

Starlight Nights Chapter 6 (p. 43)

Time has not lessened the age-old allure of the comets. In some ways their mystery has only deepened with the years. At each return a comet brings with it the questions which were asked when it was here before, and as it rounds the sun and backs away toward the long, slow night of its aphelion, it leaves behind with us those questions still unanswered.

Starlight Nights Chapter 27 (p. 231)


If one of these fires of unusual shape have made its appearance, everybody is eager to know what it is. Blind to all other celestial bodies, each asks about the newcomer; one is not quite sure whether to admire or to fear it. Persons there are who seek to inspire terror by forecasting its grave import.

Physical Science in the Time of Nero Book VII Chapter I (p. 272) many other bodies besides [these comets] move in secret, never dawning upon human eyes? Nor is it for man that God has made all things.

Physical Science in the Time of Nero Book VII Chapter XXX (p. 305)

Shakespeare, William

Hung by the heavens with black, yield day to night! Comets, importing change of time and states, Brandish your crystal tresses in the sky...

The First Part ofKing Henry the Sixth Act I, scene i, L. 1-3

Thomson, James

Lo! from the dread immensity of space, Returning, with accelerated course, The rushing comet to the sun descends; And, as he sinks below the shading earth, With awful train projected o'er the heavens, The guilty nations tremble.

Seasons Summer, L. 1705-10

Tolstoy, Leo this bright comet which, after traveling in its orbit with inconceivable velocity through infinite space, seemed suddenly—like an arrow piercing the earth—to remain fixed in a chosen spot, vigorously holding its tail, shining and displaying its white light amid countless other scintillating stars.

War and Peace Book VIII, Chapter 22 (p. 341)

von Humboldt, Alexander

Since scientific knowledge, although frequently blended with vague and superficial views, has been more extensively diffused through wider circles of social life, apprehensions of the possible evils threatened by comets have acquired more weight, as their direction has become more definite.

Cosmos Volume I Chapter I (p. 96)

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