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Why were comets feared in the past ?


Comet Drawings in
Chinese Silkbook
2 BC

Arabian Classification
of Comets

To the ancient people the sky represented order, because it was so predictable. Sunrise and set, changing phases of the moon, the motion of the stars and their shapes were so regular that people felt secure. Comets appeared suddenly without any warning. They also looked so different from all other objects in the sky. Ancients interpreted this as a warning from heaven. So all ancient civilisations kept records of these. The earliest drawings of comets are in a Chinese silk book of 2 B.C. The Arabs had classified comets according to their shapes, with criteria very similar to those used by Varahamihira the 6th century Indian astronomer. Senecca in Greece had made an exhaustive compilation of comets. Later, comets were immortalised in painting , verse and more recently through cartoons.

German cartoon showing people
hiding below the newly invented
automobile in 1910

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