John Prince, letter, 1811

(found in John Winthrop and A. Oliver, Two Lectures on Comets, 1811)

I saw it more distinctly about the middle of October [using an "excellent night glass"], than at any other time. The tail was very much forked, the light being very strong on the two sides of the tail, and very faint towards the middle. In some part, included between the head and two points of the tail, the space appeared as dark as on the outside of the comet, or the unilluminated part of the heavens. The forks were tapering to a point. I could discern a little more light in the space about the axis of the cone, which formed the tail, when I moved the glass, than when it was at rest, but the light was gradually diminished from the two inner sides of the forked tail, till it wholly disappeared, near the axis toward the end. This is what is called a bifurcated comet, and appears in my night-glass more pointed or angular than when seen with the naked eye. Its appearance is different from the comet seen here in 1807, the tail of which spread with a uniform light.

How to cite this article:  John Prince, letter, found in John Winthrop and A. Oliver, Two Lectures on Comets (Boston: Wells & Wait, 1811), p. 173 available at

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