Princeton Times

Pieces from Princeton's Past

November 20, 2012

From the November 21, 1985 Archives - Professor explains mysteries of comet

PRINCETON — Haley's comet, seen every 77 years, was headed towards our section of the solar system during 1985. Professor Raymond Durand of Concord College was making the visit a bit clearer to the combined fifth grade classes at Mercer Elementary.

"This is a comet" began Durand, taking out a dirty snowball out of a cooler. "I have taken gravel from my driveway, dirt from my lawn and crushed ice that except for the frozen gasses, including ammonia, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and methane is Haley's Comet."

The children looked and laughed as they handled the "comet" around in its plastic bag until it had dissolved into a puddle of dirty water.

To make a demonstration on how the comet travels through space he arranged a "sun" (Robert Cook), Earth (Samia Piracha) and a "Jupiter" (Tommy Robert) spaced away from one another. Durand played the comet and rushed around planets and the sun and explained, "It's doomed. Halley's Comet in thousands of years will finally disappear because each time...it passes the sun it melts a bit...and this time it will be the biggest flop since Coke. The vivid display of 1910 will not appear because the comet's orbit will not be as close to the Earth as last time."

Durand was part of a sky watch for Halley's Comet at Pipestem State Park and concluded the program by telling the children that the biggest space news would actually be the spaceship Voyager. The spaceship reached the planet Uranus, and sent back pictures of the planet that scientists had never seen.

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