On this day in 1986, Halley’s Comet made its closest approach to Earth. Several spacecraft were able to capture images of this spectacular moment. Giotto, with European Space Agency, took up close photographs of Halley’s nucleus, showing it to be a mixture of frozen water, other volatile ices, and rocky particles.
Comet Halley was discovered in 1705 by Edmund Halley. Edmund Halley predicted the orbit of the comet through past observations of comets, suggesting that these sightings were in fact all the same comet. Comet Halley is perhaps the most famous comet — it has been sighted for millennia. Comet Halley is also featured in the Bayeux tapestry, which chronicles the Battle of Hastings in 1066.