Home Page Science Frontiers

No. 59: Sep-Oct 1988

Issue Contents

Other pages

Other Interesting Sites











"?" ! ?

Photographs of Comet Bradfield taken on October 10, 1987, show an odd kink in its tail that does not appear on photos taken the nights before and after. This kink was shaped like a backwards "?". Kinks in the tails of comets are well known phenomena. A comet's tail is electrically charged, and it flaps in the solar wind like a flag on a gusty day. So why run this observation up the anomaly flagpole? First of all, the Bradfield kink is 10 million kilometers long; second, it appeared and disappeared in a matter of hours. Both size and speed-of-formation are difficult to explain in terms of existing solar-wind velocity and the shifting interplanetary magnetic field.

(Anonymous; "Did Anyone Photograph This Comet?" Astronomy, 16:16, July 1988.) Reference. Similar cometary anomalies are cataloged in ACO in: The Sun and Solar System Debris. For information on this book, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #59, SEP-OCT 1988. 1988-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987