Observing the Great Comet

Over a three-week period in March 1843, Annabella Innes recorded a comet’s passage through the night sky. As well as describing its appearance, she noted people’s reactions to the event.

The comet’s journey was recorded by astronomers, journalists and artists across Australia and the Southern Hemisphere. A letter to the Hobart Colonial Times commented, ‘There is a great doubt in the public mind as to this phenomenon, and many people will not believe that this is a comet … if a comet were so close to the earth as this meteor evidently is we should stand a good chance of being well roasted’.

  Zoom Annabella’s observations of the comet Read Annabella’s observations of the comet
  Zoom Walter Synnot’s sketch of the comet, viewed from Launceston, Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania), at 7 pm on 4 March 1843   Zoom Newspaper excerpt from the meteorology report in the Sydney Morning Herald, 8 March 1843   Zoom A painting of the 1843 comet by astronomer Charles Piazzi Smyth from the Royal Observatory, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa   Zoom The 1843 comet, drawn by artist Mary Morton Allport from Aldridge Lodge, southern Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania)