Science: Comet Trekking

Halley 's heavenly body returns

For five years, astronomers have been scanning the skies to become the first to sight one of history's most celebrated objects. Last week a Caltech team led by British Graduate Student David C. Jewitt, 24, and Staff Astronomer G. Edward Danielson, 43, won the cosmic sweepstakes. Using Palomar Observatory's 200-in. telescope, they spotted Halley's comet as a faint moving dot in the constellation Canis Minor. The comet has not been seen since 1911. A year earlier, its fiery appearance caused a rash of doomsday forecasts and end-of-the-world parties.

More than a billion miles away, just beyond Saturn's orbit,...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!