Comet Halley 1910

Probably the best-known comet is Halley. A number of its return has already been observed throughout history. Some researchers have suggested that on one coin of Tigranes Armenian king can also be seen, but only at its 1910 return it appeared on a commemorative medal for the first time.

Comets are named after their discoverer usually. Halley, however, did not discover any. He calculated one! So he chose a laborious method to find them. Here is what Dr. Joseph Wodetzky writes about it in his book Comets:

"Thus he calculated the orbits of those comets about which reliable observations were available. He found twenty four cometary paths during three and a half centuries from 1337 to 1687. ... If now calculating the orbital elements of different comets we find that some of them are in the same plane, move in the same piece of parabolic path, and their return to perihelion always repeated in the same number of years from time to time, what should we conclude from this? The fact that the comet's orbit is certainly not a parabola, but rather an ellipse and only for a small interval of the visibility it matches to a parabola. ... Halley also noticed it, when calculations found that three comets' parabolic orbital elements were the same. These comets were as follows: the 1531, observed by Appianus, the 1607 observed by Kepler and the 1682 by Flamsteed's and Halley's own observations sharing the same derived elements. This arrangement led Halley to the thought that the three comets were therefore actually the same, the orbit in this case was a lengthy elongated ellipse, and the orbital period was set between 75 and 76 years. Strengthened this supposition that 75 years before the 1530 comet, in 1456, a comet appeared and that just as in the case of 1682 comet, it caused a stir with its light and huge tail across Europe. If Halley had known Toscanelli's observations, he would certainly have calculated the elements of the comet in 1456 and indeed would have found a match, just as in elements of the 1531 and 1607 comets. But for Halley the identity of these three comets' orbital elements and the regular returning in every 75th year from 1456 was completely sufficient evidence to deduct the conclusion that the 1456, 1531, 1607 and 1682 comets were the different appearances of one and the same comet."

comet 1910 obreverse

Halley prognosticated the comet's next perihelion transition to the end of 1758 or the beginning of 1759. He died in 1742 and he did not live the joy to see that his conclusion was fulfilled. The comet passed through the perihelion on 12 March, 1759, and earned the name of Halley's Comet. After that it had perihelion transition on 16 November 1835 and 20 April 1910. Crommelin and Cromwell, astronomers at Greenwich calculated previous perihelion transitions of Halley's comet back up to 760 BC. They could find historical evidence to 87 BC, and using Chinese data records even up to 240 BC observational data. For the return in 1910 a medal was issued. The engraver was Ernst Torff. He indicated on the obverse all the perihelion date from transition 240 BC up to 1910, to day precision. Below the Treptow city's (now part of Berlin) observatory, above the starry sky, in the middle the constellation Orion, several other constellations and names of brighter stars are displayed. In the vertical direction the Milky Way, horizontally the comet's orbit is visible among the stars. Over the starry sky we find with very small letters the name of the astronomer who assisted the exact design of the coin: "NACH DR. F. S. ARCHENHOLD" that is Friedrich Simon Archenhold, the founder of Treptow observatory. The observatory is still operating, just under a new name. It is named to Archenhold Observatory after its founder. On the top of the obverse three rows of text is placed: "DAS · ERSCHEINEN · DES HALLEYSCHEN KOMETEN V· JAHRE 240 V. CHR · B · 1910 N . CHR · IN SEINER · SONNENNÄHE"

comet 1910 reverse

The reverse of the medal is decorated with a portrait of Edmund Halley. Date of his birth and death on both sides: 1656 - 1742. Legend: "ZUR · ERINNERUNG · A. D. ERSCHEINEN · HALLEYSCHEN · KOMETEN · 1910 · U. Z. FÖRDERUNG · WISSENSCHAFTLICHER · ARBEITEN · DER · TREPTOW : STERNWARTE * HALLEY · BESIEGTE DIE · KOMETENFURCHT *". The medal was made of both 30 mm and 60 mm diameter.

The return of Halley's comet in year 1456 has Hungarian national aspects, as it was the Triumph of Nándorfehérvár, one of the most significant events of the Hungarian-Turkish war, in which between July 4 to 21, 1456, the Christians (Serbs and Hungarians) led by Mihály Szilágyi heroically defended the fortress of Nándorfehérvár (today's Belgrade) against Turkish Sultan Mehmed II more than tenfold outnumbered besieging army, and on July 22 the Turks were defeated in a battle beside the castle under the leadership of János Hunyadi. In the bull of Pope Calixtus III Bulla Orationum edicted on 29 June, 1456 ordered a prayer three times in half-hour intervals "in every church of all cities, areas and places between the three o'clock and the evening prayer". The prayer was intended to promote the Christian victory over the Turks. The Halley's Comet also appeared on the sky at this time. In the public's mind these three things, the ringing of the bells, the comet and the victory were connected later and now in the western world the ringing of the bells at noon is remembered as what the Pope ordered because of deterring the comet, and in Hungary, as the commemoration of the bright victory.

Halley Götz obverseHalley 1910 reverseAnother medal was deigned by Karl Goetz. The center of the obverse is dominated by the Sun, at the bottom the Halley's comet, whose tail reaches and also covers the Earth. In the inner circle the name of the comet "KOMET HALLEY" beneath date 19.-20. MAI 1910. The perihelion date in 1910 was on 20 April, so currently no explanation of the date May on the medal. Legend outside: "JEDE WOLKE - SO SCHWARZ SIE DROHT - DEM - HIMMEL ZUGEWANDT", inside "DOCH IHRE LICHTE SONNENSEITE HAT". This is a citation of chapter 14th of Friedrich Wilhelm Weber's work  Goliath, in English: even the darkes cloud has a sunny side, that looks at the Sun.

On the reverse a spectacular representation of the constellation Orion, the Canis Maior, Lepus, Cetus, Serpent, and in the center the comet is displayed. The signs of the zodiac is visible around the rim.