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The last time Comet West came around was about 550,000 BC, very roughly the time of: the last reversal of Earth's magnetic field, about 750,000 BC; and the appearance of Homo Sapiens on Earth, about 200,000 BC, as determined by autosomal and mitochondrial DNA studies and Y-chromosome studies. (see Hammer, M., Nature 378 (23 Nov 1995) 376)The 1976 appearance of Comet West was about the 6th time it had returned since the beginning of our current Ice Age about 3,000,000 years ago, and about the 120th time it had returned since the great comet collision with the Earth that resulted in the extinction of the dinosaurs about 65,000,000 years ago, andabout the 500th time it had returned since the end of the preceding Ice Age about 250,000,000 years ago, the time of the Permian-Triassic extinction in which the number of species of marine life on Earth was reduced by over 90 per cent andabout the 8,000th time it had returned since the Earth was formed about 4.4 billion years ago and bombarded by a swarm of comets.
According to aCometography web page by Gary Kronk: "... Comet C/2002 C1Ikeya-Zhang ... was discovered ... on 2002 February 1. ...This graphic
was created by Larry Koehn and shows the motion through the innersolar system during March and April. ...".
According to aweb article by John E. Bortle in Skyand Telescope: "... Comet Ikeya-Zhang (C/2002 C1) ...
... brightness peaked near 3rd magnitude in early April.... by late April, the comet has definitely faded; observers nowreport that its tail has shrunk and its magnitude has dropped tobetween 4.5 and 5.0. ... Within days of the discovery,astronomers noticed similarities between the orbital path ofIkeya-Zhang and that of other comets observed in 1532 and 1661.Calculations now strongly suggest this is the object seen in1661, which is makingits first return visit to the inner solar system in 341 years. Noother comet with such a long period has been witnessed on successiveorbits around the Sun. ....".
According to an8 April 2002 web article by Paul Deans in Skyand Telescope: "... Comet Ikeya-Zhang and theAndromeda Galaxy (M31) make a pretty pair in this image
acquired on April 4th. Although not visually obvious, thecomet sports a (blue) gas tail as well as a dust tail. ...".
According to the CometObservation Home Page of Charles Morris at JPL:
"... Image ...[from]... "G. V. Schiaparelli AstronomicalObservatory" Varese Italy ... Andrea Aletti & Luca Buzzi ...
... of Comet C/2001 RX14 and NGC 3726 on December 14. This has got to be one of the most interesting cometimages ever taken. ...".
Acccording to a19 February 2003 BBC web article: "... The comet ... C/2002 V1... returns after 37,000 years...[when the Gemingashock wave hitthe Earth, Cro-Magnonsappeared, and the Rule of Gods on Earthbegan. The comet]... is unusualin that it is very large
and very bright. ... it is the brightest comet ever observed byone of Soho's instruments. ...". According to aSOHO web page: "... Although comet NEAT (C/2002 V1) was notvisible in the LASCO images until about 16:00 (Universal Time) onFebruary 16, it had in fact been tracked by SOHO since December 31last year. ... The LASCO pictures and movies of this comet are quiteout of the ordinary ...[aGary W. Kronk's Cometography web pagestates "... the perihelion date was firmly established asFebruary 18.30, the perihelion distance was given as 0.0993 AU, andthe orbital period was about 37 thousand years. The orbit indicatesthe comet passed closest to Earth on December 24 (0.80 AU) and willbe situated 5.7° from the sun around the time of perihelion...". That page also has this "... collage
of four images obtained by the Solar &Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) at 10:54 UT on 2003 February 17, 18,19, and 20. ..."]...
with a sizeable tail and a very bright (saturated) comet nucleus.We even got a nice Coronal Mass Ejection(CME) off the west limb close to perihelion time ...".
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