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The Maunder Minimum

16 June 2019

At https://malagabay.wordpress.com/2019/06/17/maunder-minimum-and-the-comet… … the Maunder Minimum (a very cold episode supposedly associated with a lack of sun spots) is under scrutiny by Tim Cullen. A volcanic event is visible in Alpine ice cores. However, cometary dust may have prolonged the Minimum – the takeway part of the post. The Great Comet of 1744, naked eye visible for several months, displayed an unusual feature – a fan of six tails. This has vexed astronomers as to why it might have happened. Cullen, not frightened to go where others fear to tread, claims the comet disintegrated (or broke apart into six pieces as comets are prone to do) and the resulting dust and debris made a contribution to the Maunder Minimum (prolonging it for several years). We may also note the Great Comet and its fan was visible a year prior to the 1745 Jacobite rebellion in Scotland. No doubt the Highlanders were heavily affected by the cold weather during the Minimum, making their crofts difficult to farm in what is an agricultural borderline locality. The same crofts would of course have been viable in the kind of 20th century weather of recent time but the Maunder Minimum came on the back end of the Little Ice Age (a prolonged period of cool weather during the 17th century). The cold weather and poor crops led to hunger and famine in the Highlands and no doubt fueled the rebellion to a certain degree – but what effect did the appearance of a six fan comet have on them?

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