Donati's Comet

Donati's Comet

Donati's Comet, as seen above Paris, October 1858. Contemporary engraving.

Donati's Comet (C/1858 L1) was one of the brightest and most visible comets of the nineteenth century; it was discovered by Giovanni Donati on June 2, 1858, brightened to magnitude -1 in September 1858, reached perihelion on September 30, came closest to Earth (0.5 AU) on October 9, and was last seen on March 4, 1859. Around the time of closest approach the Earth, the comet developed a prominent dust tail, up to 60° long and curved like a scimitar, for which it is best remembered.

perihelion 0.58 AU
eccentricity 0.996
inclination 117.0°
period about 2,000 years