periodic comet

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Halley's Comet, perhaps the best-know periodic comet, returns about every 76 years (NASA, 1986)

Alternative forms[edit]


periodic comet (plural periodic comets)

  1. (astronomy) A comet which orbits the Sun and which returns to the innermost point of its orbit at known, regular intervals.
    • 1880, Lewis Swift, "The New Periodic Comet," Science, vol. 1, no. 21, p. 258:
      The computation of the elements of its orbit reveals the fact that they are almost identical with those of Comet III, 1869, and hence it becomes what in astronomical language is called a periodic comet.
    • 2001 Nov. 8, P. Clay Sherrod and Gian Trotta, "A History of the Leonid Storm," (retrieved 26 Jan 2016):
      Comet Temple-Tuttle is what astronomers call a "periodic comet," one of hundreds that routinely and predictably continue to orbit the Sun.