Text #9473

Kronk. Cometography: A Catalog of Comets. Series: Cometography. Vol. 1
[pp. 16--17]

The annals of the Shih chi (-90) date this comet’s appearance as “in the autumn of the first year of the Yuan-Feng reign-period,” which translates to autumn -109. This “sparkling star was seen at Tung-Ching [Geminorum] and some ten or twelve days later it appeared in San Thai [Ursae Majoris].” The text continues, “Wang So, a man versed in the observation of the skies, reported that he had seen the star swell forth until it was as large as a melon, and after awhile disappear again.” This comet was referred to as the “Star of Virtue,” and officials assured the emperor that it was sent by heaven to show favor in his instituting the “Feng and Shan sacrifices for the house of Han.”

Although this remains the most complete account of this comet, the Han shu (100) also gave some interesting details. The annals and the astronomical chapters essentially reflect what was said in the Shih chi, but the Treatise of the Five Elements claims the comet was seen during the month of -109 May 29 to June 26. A. G. Pingre (1783) considered that the Chinese accounts referred to two different comets and dated them as -110 or -109.

On the Babylonian cuneiform tablet designated BMA 35086, Hermann Hunger identified two fragments referring to a comet seen at the beginning of the ninth month in the 202nd year of the Seleucid era. Fragment one states, “[…] east, and its tail to the west, in the path of (the stars of) [Enlil…].” Fragment two states, “[…the co]met which had appeared on the 1st in the path of (the stars of) Enlil, […] to the north […].” The indicated date i -109 November 23.

The Babylonian record reports that the comet was apparently in the east with a tail pointing westward when first detected on November 23, which implies a morning sky observation. An additional, undated, statement is only partial, but seems to have something to do with the comet either having moved into the northern sky, or having moved to the north of some object or constellation.

FULL MOON: June 11, November 5, December 5

Text #136

Yeomans. Comets
[p. 366]

110 BC, June, China. A bushy star comet was first seen in Gemini. After more than 10 days, it was seen in Ursa Major.

Text #9472

Pankenier & Xu & Jiang. Archaeoastronomy in East Asia

1st year of the Yuanfeng reign period of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty, 5th month; a star became fuzzy in Dongjing [LM 22], and then, it became fuzzy again in Santai.

Text #3866

Abraham Sachs, Hermann Hunger. Astronomical Diaries and Related Texts from Babylonia
[pp. 349--353]

A: BM 35086 + 46149 + 77619
B: BM 34986

5’ - […] 20° of night maximal phase; when it began to clear, [it cleared in x] + 6° of night from the east (?)[…]
6’ - […the remain]der of the planets did not stand there; 2 cubits above α Tauri it became eclipsed; at 25° after sunset.
14’ – [… a comet whose …] the east, and whose tail was to west, in the path of [the Enlil stars …]
19’ – [… the come]t which appeared on the 1st in the path pf the Enlil stars, […] to the north […]
25’ - […in the aft]ernoon, the sun was twice surrounded by a halo.

9’ – Night of the 6th, clouds were in the sky; the comet […] β Capricorni […]

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