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Comets in Ancient Cultures

Comets have inspired dread, fear, and awe in many different cultures and societies around the world and throughout time. They have been branded with such titles as “the Harbinger of Doom” and “the Menace of the Universe.” 

They have been regarded both as omens of disaster and messengers of the gods. Why is it that comets are some of the most feared and venerated objects in the night sky? Why did so many cultures cringe at the sight of a comet? (read more)

  • Types of cometary forms, illustrations from Johannes Hevelius’ Cometographia (Danzig, 1668)
  • Woodcut showing destructive influence of a fourth century comet from Stanilaus Lubienietski’s Theatrum Cometicum (Amsterdam, 1668)
  • The illustration shows a view of Augsburg, Germany with the comets of 1680, 1682, and 1683 in the sky
  • The Mawangdui silk, a ‘textbook’ of cometary forms and the various disasters associated with them, was compiled sometime around 300 B.C. 
Zoot Sims by W. Eugene Smith
The Jazz Loft Project: W. Eugene Smith in NYC, 1957-1965

Zoot Sims by W. Eugene Smith

The Jazz Loft Project: W. Eugene Smith in NYC, 1957-1965