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Encyclopedia > Comet Biela

3D/Biela is the official designation for a lost periodic comet discovered in 1826 by Wilhelm von Biela. It is sometimes known as Comet Biela or Biela's Comet.


The comet was sighted in 1772 by Charles Messier and in 1805 by Jean-Louis Pons. However, it was Wilhelm von Biela who discovered it in its 1826 perihelion approach (on February 27) and calculated its orbit, discovering it to be periodic with period 6.6 years. It was only the third comet (at the time) found to be periodic, after the famous comets Halley and Encke.


In its 1846 appearance, the comet was observed to have broken up into two pieces. It was observed again in 1852 but never seen again. In 1872, a brilliant meteor shower was observed radiating from the part of the sky where the comet had been expected to appear. These meteors became known as the Andromedids or "Bielids" and it seems apparent that they indicated the death of the comet. The meteors were seen again on subsequent occasions for the rest of the 19th century, but have now faded away.


A highly speculative theory suggests that a fragment of Biela's Comet may have been responsible for starting the Peshtigo Fire, the Saugatuk Fire and Great Chicago Fire. However, there is no direct evidence of this.


  Results from FactBites:
 
Comet - definition of Comet in Encyclopedia (2394 words)
Comets are thought of as debris left over from the condensation of a solar nebula; it is generally argued that the outer edges of such nebulae are cool enough that water exists in a solid (rather than gaseous) state.
Comets are sometimes perturbed from their distant orbits, falling into extremely elliptical orbits that bring them very close to the Sun.
He rejected the ideas of several earlier philosophers that comets were planets, or at least a phenomenon related to the planets, on the grounds that while the planets confined their motion to the circle of the Zodiac, comets could appear in any part of the sky.
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