Comet Donati was a spectacular sight and was the first comet to be photographed (by English photographer William Usherwood, though another photo was taken the next night by astronomers at Harvard University; their collodion plate is in the Observatory’s archives). This piece alerting young readers of Robert Merry’s Museum was followed by a longer, illustrated piece printed the next month.
“The Comet” (from Robert Merry’s Museum, October 1858; p. 122)

How many of the young Merrys have seen the comet? How many have taken the trouble to inquire what it is, and to learn its history?

All along during the month of September it has been visible, morning and evening, when the sky was clear. In the morning, about two hours before sunrise, in the northeast, and in the evening, two hours after sunset, in the northwest quarter of the heavens, almost immediately below the constellation of the Great Bear, commonly known as the Dipper. Comets were once supposed to portent war. We need have no fears of this one, for the Great Bear, Major Ursus of the celestial host, has it already under his foot.

We do not profess to be much acquainted with comets, but those who do, say that this one has not reported presence in our heavens before for more than two hundred years. A very long journey he must have taken into the immeasurable regions of space, and seen many wonderful things which our astronomers, with all their great telescopes, will never be able to see. We hope you will all look at him as he passes along. His train is distinctly visible, and, as a child might say, appears to be about two feet in length. He seems to be moving toward sunset, his train streaming out behind like a torch flaring in the wind. In connection with the superstitious notion, that comets have something to do with our wars on earth, one might conceive of this as a flaming cimeter brandished over us by some mighty hand.

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