Comets: Nature and Culture 

Reviewed By  Janet Mawdesley       March 25, 2018


Author  P. Andrew Karam

Distributor:       Booktopia/Amazon 
ISBN:                 9781780238302
Publisher:         REAKTION BOOKS
Release Date:   January 2018  


The skies are amazing and it does not matter how scientific we become they will always hold a majesty and mystique, which is particularly significant when it comes to comets and thrall they have long held over history, religion and culture.

Comets have always, since people inhabited this earth, held a very definite place in history, as the ancients saw these phenomena as a sign from the Gods that something significant, good or bad, was to occur. Julius Caesar was declared a deity by the senate in Rome, but it was only accepted by the people after an appearance of a great comet (Caesars Comet – 44bce) in the skies, such was the power and significance of the Comet.

Ancient Astronomers such as Hippocrates (460-370bce) and Aristotle (385-322bce), Seneca (4bce-65ce), Pliny The Elder (923-79ce) and Ptolemy (90-168ce) studied this naturally occurring phenomena, all coming to a range of conclusions, all of which are now given some measure of merit in today’s scientific community, particularly in the light of the fact their ability to see into the heavens and research as far and wide as the modern scientist, did not exist.

Every now and again a particular comet will capture the imagination along with the spiritual influences to create a media focus. The Halley Comet was seen when author Mark Twain was born and also appeared when he died, but has links back into history as having been documented as observed as far back as 250 bce. Greek and Chinese astronomers alike, made note of a comet that appeared in approximately 467 bce, which could possibly have been Halley’s Comet.

The scientific influence of comets is well documented and can even be considered as the reasons dinosaurs became extinct as the direct result of a major cosmic collision. Comets are also attributed to have been the reason there is so much water on the earth as they are primarily made of water, therefor the line of research shows that without comets the water, that is the basis of all life on earth, simply may not be here.

Fact, fiction, folkloric, history, cults, religion, superstition and tragedy can all be placed firmly in the realm of the Comet, which in the scientific breakdown, is not a lot more than a ball of ice that has been hurtling about space long before man ever walked on the earth, but since then has come into its own, not just for their splendid trajectory around our earth, but also for the wonder and awe they did and do still hold.

Andrew Karam has gathered these and many, many more interesting aspects of life in the solar system together, presenting them in such a way as to make the entire subject matter of Comets one of extreme fascination, delivering them straight to the armchair of the lay person, in a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining manner.