On This Day In The Viking Age
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10 April

Last updated 28 March 2021

Featured Image: Comet P/Halley as taken March 8, 1986 by W. Liller, Easter Island, part of the International Halley Watch (IHW) Large Scale Phenomena Network (NSSDCA and NASA ID LSPN-1725).

837 – Halley’s Comet races past earth

This event is not recorded in The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. The Chinese astronomers record this year’s occurrence “branched into two tails”. Apparently, this is one of the closest fly-bys paths the comet has ever taken past earth (see W.S. Tsu in Popular Astronomy, pp. 196-197 and Ian Ridpath’s blog).

This event is recorded in the story about the life of Louis the Pious. An anonymous scribe called ‘The Astronomer’ describes how Louis at the sight of the comet, devotes himself to prayers, alms, and a little hunting (see Thomas Noble, Charlemagne and Louis the Pious, pp. 292). But was it really Halley’s comet? There is an alternative view, that Louis and The Astronomer observed a different force of nature than the comet (see Scott Ashley in Early Medieval Europe, Vol. 21.1 (2013), pp. 27-49).

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