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Ignatius Donnelly
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 362 pages of information about Ragnarok .

{p. 408}

CHAPTER V.

BIELA’S COMET.

HUMBOLDT Says: 

“It is probable that the vapor of the tails of comets mingled with our atmosphere in the years 1819 and 1823."[1]

There is reason to believe that the present generation has passed through the gaseous prolongation of a comet’s tail, and that hundreds of human beings lost their lives, somewhat as they perished in the Age of Fire and Gravel, burned up and poisoned by its exhalations.

And, although this catastrophe was upon an infinitely smaller scale than that of the old time, still it may throw some light upon the great cataclysm.  At least it is a curious story, with some marvelous features: 

On the 27th day of February, 1826, (to begin as M. Dumas would commence one of his novels,) M. Biela, an Austrian officer, residing at Josephstadt, in Bohemia, discovered a comet in the constellation Aries, which, at that time, was seen as a small round speck of filmy cloud.  Its course was watched during the following month by M. Gambart at Marseilles and by M. Clausen at Altona, and those observers assigned to it an elliptical orbit, with a period of six years and three quarters for its revolution.

M. Damoiseau subsequently calculated its path, and announced that on its next return the comet would cross

[1.  “Cosmos,” Vol. i, p. 100.]

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the orbit of the earth, within twenty thousand miles of its track, and but about one month before the earth would have arrived at the same spot!

This was shooting close to the bull’s-eye!

He estimated that it would lose nearly ten days on its return trip, through the retarding influence of Jupiter and Saturn; but, if it lost forty days instead of ten, what then?

But the comet came up to time in 1832, and the earth missed it by one month.

And it returned in like fashion in 1839 and 1846.  But here a surprising thing occurred. Its proximity to the earth had split it in two; each half had a head and tail of its own; each had set up a separate government for itself; and they were whirling through space, side by side, like a couple of race-horses, about sixteen thousand miles apart, or about twice as wide apart as the diameter of the earth.  Here is a picture of them, drawn from life.

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BIELA’S COMET, SPLIT IN TWO, (From Guillemin’s “The Heavens,” page
247.)

{p. 410} Did the Fenris-Wolf, the Midgard-Serpent, and the Dog-Garm look like this?

In 1852, 1859, and 1866, the comet SHOULD have returned, but it did not.  It was lost.  It was dissipated.  Its material was banging around the earth in fragments somewhere.  I quote from a writer in a recent issue of the “Edinburgh Review”: 

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