Lexell's comet

Lexell's comet

(leks -ĕlz) A comet that was discovered by Messier in June 1770 but was named after the St. Petersburg mathematician who calculated its orbit. Prior to 1767 Lexell's comet had a period of 11.4 years; a close approach to Jupiter in 1770 changed this to 5.6 years and the next close approach to Jupiter in 1779 changed this period to a calculated 174 years. This last approach perturbed the comet so that it has a perihelion distance of 5.4 AU and it has never been seen again, always being too far away from Earth.

Lexell's Comet

[′lek·selz ‚käm·ət]
(astronomy)
A small comet that approached to within 2,000,000 miles (3,200,000 kilometers) of earth in 1770; it has not been seen since.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Herschel describes an encounter between Lexell's Comet and Jupiter thusly:
Elijah Burritt's 1838 edition cites Herschel's words and summarizes this passage as "sufficient proof of the aeriform nature of the comet's mass." So Poe's mention of a comet "observed to pass among the satellites of Jupiter" was definitely inspired by Lexell's Comet.
thesis, "The Literary Uses of Astronomy in the Writings of Edgar Allan Poe." She used John Herschel's 1834 American edition as a source and connected "The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion" to both Biela's Comet and Lexell's Comet.
Poe's story alludes to the remarkable 1779 passage of Lexell's Comet through Jupiter's satellite system.
There are only two other comets which are known to have come closer to Earth in recorded history: for instance, 55P/Tempel-Tuttle, was believed to have passed at a distance of 2.1 million miles on October 26, 1366; almost four centuries later, Lexell's comet (D/1770 L1), which passed on July 1, 1770 and missed Earth by only 1.4 million miles, according to the existing historical records.