What would happen if Earth passed through a comet’s tail?

Nothing, except that we would witness a breath-taking aerial fireworks display. The meteoritic dust in the comet’s tail would be burned up by the air’s friction, just as meteors are consumed and become what is commonly (and erroneously) known as shooting stars when they enter our atmosphere.

Moreover, while we tend to ridicule the ancients who considered comets omens of death and destruction, we should remember that the twentieth century had a same scare, too. On May 18, 1910, the head of the famed Halley’s Comet was scheduled to pass between the Earth and the Sun. Newspapers caused widespread apprehension by announcing that the tail contained a poisonous gas–cyanogens.

Comet pills label

A worldwide scare ensued and quite a few quacks has a field day. They encashed on the panic by selling comet pills, which according to their phony claim, would safeguard people from the ill-effects of the supposedly toxic gas. The long-awaited day arrived but nothing happened. In fact, no one saw the head of the comet against the Sun, although some reported the comet’s tail was faintly visible. The Earth had passed through the tail of Halley’s Comet, with all living beings remaining as safe and sound as they were before.

Additional reading:
Comet tail (Wikipedia)

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