Science: Starry Shower

One of the earth's favorite playmates in the lonely vastness of space is the Gia-cobini-Zinner comet, which sweeps around the sun in a lopsided orbit once every six and a half years. In 1933, two sweeps ago, the earth passed within 500,000 miles of the place where the comet had been 80 days before. The result: a gaudy shower of meteors.

This year, the comet was due again, and astronomers calculated that this time the earth would pass only 131,000 miles from the place it had been eight days before. As astronomers measure distances, this is a cat's-whisker miss. The earth's gravitational...

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