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The discovery of Comet Kohoutek

The Story

In March 1973, Czech astronomer Lubos Kohoutek discovers a new comet. His discovery becomes an international news story because Kohoutek holds great promise even for the casual stargazer. It is to be the brightest and longest comet to come close to earth since Halley's comet in 1910. The mystery and power of comets is discussed in this CBC Radio report.

Medium: Radio
Program: Five Nights
Broadcast Date: Dec. 24, 1973
Guest(s): Robin Armstrong, Herb Breithaupt, Philip Kronberg
Interviewer: Barry Hussey
Duration: 12:55
Photo: NASA Johnson Space Center

Did You know?

• Kohoutek was the first comet to be observed and photographed from space. NASA's Skylab and the Soviet Union's Soyuz 13 were orbiting Earth at the time of its arrival. As the comet got closer to the sun the brighter it became, eventually becoming visible even to the naked eye.  


• Comet Kohoutek had quite an impact on popular culture. American Jazz composer and bandleader Sun Ra held a special Concert for Kohoutek in December 1973. The German techno-pop band Kraftwerk released their first single in Germany, called Kometenmelodie (comet melody) in the same month.  


• Kohoutek took on religious significance because it was scheduled to be brightest between mid-December 1973 and mid-January 1974. In North America, according to astronomer Helen Hogg, it was best seen in the late evening skies of mid-January.




Astronomy: Canadian Stargazers more