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Ulster Museum

Marvelling at the Skies

Comets through the Eyes of the Anglo-Saxons
Known to the Saxons as ‘long-haired stars’ records of comets from Anglo-Saxon sources, along with contemporary images of comets, take visitors on a cosmic journey through time and space.

Wed 02 May 2018 - Sun 03 Jun 2018

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What did the night sky look like 1000 years ago? What significance would the Anglo-Saxons attribute to the sudden appearance of a dazzling comet across a night sky?

Brighter than stars, and known to the Anglo-Saxons as the ‘long-haired stars’ (feaxeda), comets have always evoked, feelings of awe and terror in the beholders.

The well-known comet of 1066, described in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as ‘a sign in the skies such as had never been seen before’ came to be understood as a sign heralding the end of the English dynasty at the hands of the Normans. This exhibition, which combines records of comets from Anglo-Saxon sources with contemporary images of comets (from the NASA, Armagh Observatory and the Amateur Astronomical Association from Northern Ireland) will take visitors on a cosmic journey -from the earliest contemporary description of a comet in England in the year 891 under the period of Alfred the Great, to the sighting of a hazy green-hued comet Lovejoy in 2013.

This exhibition is part of the APEX project ‘Before and After Halley: Medieval Visions of Modern Science’ funded by the UK leading academies and the Leverhulme Trust.

For more details contact – Dr Marilina Cesario, School of Arts, English and Literatures, email: m.cesario@qub.ac.uk, Tel: 028 90975104

Cost: Tickets are free

Image: First known image of Halley’s comet (1066) – Bayeux tapestry.
First known image of Halley’s comet (1066) – Bayeux tapestry.