Biela's comet

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Biela's comet

(bee -lăz) (1852 III) A comet, discovered in 1826, having a period of 6.62 years and a perihelion distance of 0.86 AU. At the 1846 return it appeared to be distinctly elongated into a pear-shaped form and actually divided into two separate comets some 10 days later, these comets travelling in practically the same orbit, one preceding the other by 280 000 km. The brightness of the two parts fluctuated drastically. At the next return in 1852 their separation had increased eightfold, the two periods differing by about 15 days. Neither comet has been seen since. Other comets have been observed to break up and to have portions detatch from the main nucleus; these include Brooks' comet (1889 V), Swift 1860 III, and 1882 III.
Collins Dictionary of Astronomy © Market House Books Ltd, 2006
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Biela’s Comet


a comet discovered in 1826 by the Czech amateur astronomer W. Biela. Its identity with the comets of 1772 and 1806–1 was established.

The comet was observed in appearances in 1832,1846, and 1852. In January 1846 its division into two parts was discovered; by 1852 the distance between its parts was 2.8 million km. From their motion, the comet’s mass was estimated to be4 • 10-7 times that of the earth. Some timeafter 1852 Biela’s comet finally decomposed; however, in 1872 a weak cometlike cloud was observed, probably a cluster of still-unscattered meteoric matter. The approach of decomposition products to the earth in 1741, 1872, and 1885 produced heavy meteor showers, the Andromedides (Bielides).

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.