The third episode of “Cosmos,” airing on Fox on Sunday at 9 p.m. EDT, will feature Neil deGrasse Tyson chasing a comet. “When Knowledge Conquered Fear” takes viewers on a journey through the solar system and will also explore the friendship between Isaac Newton and Edmond Halley.
According to Fox’s synopsis for “When Knowledge Conquered Fear,” the episode will explore the orbit of Halley’s Comet as it makes its 76-year trip through the solar system and around the sun. Comets are usually defined as either short-period or long-period objects, and Halley’s Comet is considered a short-period comet, as its recurring orbit period is less than 200 years.
The comet was named after Halley following the publication of “A Synopsis of the Astronomy of Comets” in 1705 in which the polymath concluded that, based on the historical evidence, a particular comet was making return trips around Earth on a periodic basis, reports Space.com.
Fox has released three clips from the upcoming “Cosmos” episode. The first video, which can be viewed above, gives a short explanation of the orbit of Halley’s Comet and how the sun pulls the comet. The second video, below, explores what happens when Halley’s Comet gets closer to Earth.
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The third clip explores the future of the Milky Way and the predicted galactic merger with the Andromeda galaxy. According to recent observations, the Andromeda galaxy will collide with the Milky Way in about four billion years although any impact between stars is unlikely.
While the merger will be a spectacular event, it is unlikely that it will be viewed from Earth, as recent studies say the planet will only be habitable for another 1.75 billion years. At the time, the Earth will have exited the habitable zone and the closer distance to the sun will mean an increase in surface temperatures that will evaporate the oceans.
“Cosmos” will also look at the relationship between Halley and Newton. According to the synopsis, “It was Halley's patience and generosity which allowed Newton to conquer his fear of isolation and find the courage to publish his masterwork, "Principia Mathematica," which launched a scientific revolution.”
“Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” airs on Fox on Sundays at 9 p.m. EDT, and on the National Geographic Channel on Mondays at 10 p.m. EDT.