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C/1680 V1
Discovered by: Gottfried Kirch
Discovery date: 1680
Alternate designations: Great Comet of 1680, 1680 V1
Orbital characteristics A
Epoch: 2335000.5
Aphelion distance: 889 AU
Perihelion distance: 0.00622 AU
Semi-major axis: 444 AU
Eccentricity: 0.999986
Orbital period: ~9356 a
Inclination: 60.7°
Last perihelion: November 14, 1680

The Great Comet of 1680, formally known as C/1680 V1, Kirch's Comet or Newton's Comet, has the distinction of being the first comet discovered by telescope. Discovered by Gottfried Kirch on November 14, 1680, it became one of the brightest comets of the 17th century--reputedly visible even in daytime--and was noted for its spectacularly long tail.[1] Passing only 0.4 AUs from Earth on November 30, it sped around an incredibly close perihelion of .006 AU (898,000 km on December 18, 1680, reaching its peak brightness on December 29 as it rushed outward again.[2][3] It was last observed on March 19, 1681.[4] As of June 2008 the comet was about 252 A.U. from the Sun.[5][6]

While the Kirch Comet of 1680-1681 was discovered and subsequently named for Gottfried Kirch, credit must also be given to the Jesuit, Eusebio Francisco Kino (1645-1711), who charted the comet’s course. During his delayed departure for Mexico, Kino began his observations of the comet in Cadíz in late 1680. Upon his arrival in Mexico City, he published his Exposisión astronómica de el [sic] cometa (Mexico City, 1681) in which he presented his findings. Kino’s Exposisión astronómica is among one of the earliest scientific treatises published by a European in the New World.[7]

Although it was an undeniably a sungrazing comet, it was probably not part of the Kreutz family.[8] Aside from its brilliance, it is probably most noted for being used by Isaac Newton to test and verify Kepler's laws.


  1. ^ James W. Werner. "The Great Comet of 1680". Retrieved 2006-02-05.  
  2. ^ "JPL DASTCOM Comet Orbital Elements". Retrieved 2006-02-05.  
  3. ^ Donald Yeomans. "Great Comets in History". Retrieved 2007-08-01.  
  4. ^ NASA JPL Small-Body Database Browser on C/1680 V1. Retrieved on 2008-04-16.
  5. ^ NASA. JPL Small-body database browser approximate orbit plot. (needs Java)
  6. ^ NASA. JPL HORIZONS current ephemeris more accurate position, no plot.
  7. ^ H. E. BOLTON. Kino’s Historical Memoir of the Pimería Alta. Cleveland, OH (USA): Arthur H. Clark, 1919. Reprint 1949.
  8. ^ Tony Hoffman. "A SOHO and Sungrazing Comet FAQ". Retrieved 2006-02-06.  


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