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Discovered only a few weeks ago (August 12th), comet Nishimura, greenish in color, will make a remarkable passage through the sky of the Northern hemisphere. It was named in honor of the amateur astronomer who detected it, Hideo Nishimura. The comet completes its orbit every 430 or 440 years, meaning this is its first visit near Earth since the late 16th century. Its next passage is therefore likely to be around 2450. This is an opportunity not to be missed!

If it continues to gain brightness, it is even possible that it will be visible to the naked eye by mid-September. If not, a simple pair of binoculars should suffice. It will reach the closest point to Earth on September 12, which may be the best time to admire it. A place away from light pollution will therefore be ideal for enjoying the show. However, its angle relative to the Sun risks confining its observation to dawn and dusk. Additionally, over time, it will tend to move closer to the Sun - which will limit opportunities. It will reach its closest point to our star around September 17.



Talking about comets, here is a brief overview of the presence of comets in the iconography of Roman coinage. (Not my coins)




AUGUSTUSThe comet appeared suddenly during the festival known as the Ludi Victoriae Caesaris that was being held in July 44 BC, just months after the assassination of Julius Caesar, which also happened to be Caesar's own birth month. According to Suetonius, as celebrations were getting under way, "a comet shone for seven successive days, rising about the eleventh hour, and was believed to be the soul of Caesar" (Suetonius, Divus Julius, 88). Its seven-day visitation was interpreted by Romans as a sign of the deification of the recently assassinated dictator, and it quickly became a powerful symbol in the political propaganda of Octavian, who was just then launching his career.



AUGUSTUS WITH DIVUS JULIUS CAESARThe idealized head on the reverse has been variously identified as a deified and rejuvenated Julius Caesar, Augustus himself, or a male personification of the dawning Golden Age. The presence of a comet above the head, likely intended as the "Julian star" that appeared shortly after Caesar's death, argues for the first identification.



CALIGULAThe presence of stars flanking the deified bust of Augustus is possibly a representation of Halley’s comet. Early in the reign of Augustus when Halley’s comet passed over Rome, Augustus claimed it to be the spirit of Julius Caesar entering the heavens. Caligula chose to use the same symbolism Augustus used for his predecessor, in honoring Augustus with this deification issue.



HADRIANThis remarkable type depicts a youthful portrait of Hadrian with sideburns rather than the full beard normally depicted on his portraiture. The reverse displays a very artistic depiction of the portraits of the Emperor’s adoptive parents, Trajan and the Empress Plotina. The reverse description “DIVIS PARENTIBVS” leaves little to interpretation as a deification issue of the emperors late adoptive parents. Both parents are depicted with stars above their portraits as a symbol of their deification. This tradition dates back to the reign of the emperor Augustus. Early in the reign of Augustus when Halley’s comet passed over Rome.



TIBERIUS AND AUGUSTUSThis issue was produced under Tiberius as a deification issue for Augustus. The reverse depicts a laureate portrait of Augustus with a star or comet above.



COMMODUSThe presence of the star on some coins issued late in Commodus' reign is referred to in BMC merely as a good omen, however Herodian records that a comet appeared at that time.



PERTINAXThe reverse type suggests that the gods sent a star to presage Pertinax' accession, apparently a reference to a comet which appeared late in Commodus' reign according to Herodian

                           Other examples ? Please show them here.

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William II Rufus Voided Cross Penny, 1092-1095
London. Silver, 1.38g. Crowned bust facing, star either side; + þillelm rei. Voided short cross potent over cross pommée; + þvlfþord on lv (moneyer Wulfword (Wulfweard) on London) (S 1260).

The stars may have been added in 1093 after the annular solar eclipse. William I also featured stars on his coins, struck soon after the appearance of a bright comet in 1075, and Halley's comet that accompanied his invasion of England in 1066, which may also have inspired William II.

Edited by John Conduitt
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Beautiful coins. Here another comet.


The Paper where this coin is published is here:


beginning on page 36.



Uncertain Mint
Pontus or Asia Minor
about 130-100 BC
Obv.: Horse's head with star
Rev.: Comet
AE, 1.66g, 12.1mm
Ref.: SNG Black Sea 984, Lindgren III 154
OMNI 8 (11-2014), p.49, Fig. 17, this coin


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I wonder if all the stars on Constantinian bronzes relate to the comet he saw before the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312.

Constantine II Follis, 324-325
Londinium. Bronze, 18mm, 3.04g. Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind; CONSTANTINVS IVN NOB C. Campgate with six layers, two turrets, star above; PROVIDENTIAE CAESS; mintmark PLON (RIC 296).

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18 hours ago, Ocatarinetabellatchitchix said:

The comet completes its orbit every 430 or 440 years, meaning this is its first visit near Earth since the late 16th century. Its next passage is therefore likely to be around 2450.

Great to know, thanks @Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

I won't be able to look at it this time though. i will make sure to not miss it next time it is around 😄 


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