Cheseaux comet 1744

The Great Comet of 1744, whose official designation is C/1743 X1, and which is also known as Comet de Chéseaux or Comet Klinkenberg-Chéseaux, was a spectacular comet that was observed during 1743 and 1744. It was discovered independently in late November 1743 by Jan de Munck, in the second week of December by Dirk Klinkenberg, and, four days later, by Jean-Philippe de Chéseaux. It became visible with the naked eye for several months in 1744 and displayed dramatic and unusual effects in the sky. Its absolute magnitude — or intrinsic brightness — of 0.5 was the sixth highest in recorded history. Its apparent magnitude may have reached as high as -7, leading it to be classified among what are called the "Great Comets". This comet is noted especially for developing a 'fan' of six tails after reaching its perihelion.

As in the case of previous comets and medals the historical background of this bright comet was described in the Americal Journal of Numismatics Volume XXVI. No. 3 in January, 1892 by David L. Walter. Also he gave the detailed description of this token. I strongly suggest the enquirer reader to study the original document. Here I cite some of Mr. Walter's original text only with slight modifications (in Italics):

This great Comet, discovered by Klinkenberg at Harlem, December 9, 1743, surpassed in brilliancy stars of the first magnitude. On January 9, 1744, the head or nucleus of the Comet was equal to a star of the second magnitude. In February it was brighter than Sirius, and during the last days of February and the beginning of March, it became so bright that it could be seen by daylight, in the presence of the sun.

comet 1744Arago says, that Heinsius, who observed this Comet at St. Petersburg, saw nothing extraordinary about it on January 5th, but on the 25th he discovered a luminous aigrette in the form of a triangle, the apex of which was at the nucleus, while the opening was toward the sun ; the lateral edges of the aigrette were curved, as if driven in from the outside by the action of the sun. On February 2, these edges, still more curved, formed the two sides of the commencement of a tail, which became more distinct on the following day.

According to Cheseaux, who observed it at Lausanne, and after whom the Comet is named by astronomers, it had six tails. On March 8, according to the same authority, these tails were most noticeable. The six divergent branches of the tail proceeded from the nucleus in luminous curves, the outer radii of which included an angle of about 60, the lowest being toward the concave portion. Cheseaux saw the Comet rise before the sun, and its large fan-like tail appeared above the horizon before the nucleus was visible. I know of but one medal on this Comet, which was probably struck at Breslau, or some Silesian city, although described also by Gaedechens, who does not however claim it as a Hamburg medal.

comet 1744 obverse

comet 1744 reverse

Obverse. The Comet in a starry sky, travelling due south (on coin) with its tail split into many branches (as described). A flat wintry landscape with three leafless trees. Exergue, 1744.

Reverse. Inscription in six lines WER HAT | DES | HERRN | SINN | ERKANNT? | ROM xi-34 (Who hath known the mind of the Lord. Romans xi : 34.) Silver. 21 mm.

There are also exist gold version of this token.