The Comet Parties of Joplin

A photograph of the comet in 1910 via Wikipedia.

The year 1910 witnessed the passing of one of America’s greatest authors and one of the galaxy’s most famous celestial events. Missourian and celebrated author Mark Twain was born in 1835, the same year that Halley’s Comet made an appearance, and by sheer coincidence, he died shortly after the comet graced the heavens once again in 1910. The comet’s brief appearance sparked interested across the world and Joplinites took note.

The comet, which only returns every 75 to 76 years, was quite the big deal and Joplinites were not going to miss out on enjoying it. Invitations were sent to friends and family that stated, “You are cordially invited to attend a Halley comet party which will be held on the roof of our home tomorrow morning at 3:30 o’clock,” or so the Joplin Daily Globe claimed in the May of 1910 in its coverage of the once in a lifetime event. The same article noted that comet gazers had an extra treat in the presence of a spectacular Venus, the “celestial celebrity.” The paper claimed hundreds of Joplin residents were awake for the opportunity to see the visitor, which became visible around 3:45 am and grew brighter over the next thirty minutes. The Halley’s Comet parties were, the headline proclaimed, “the Latest and Most Popular Functions.”

The last time Halley’s Comet visited Joplin, as well the rest of the planet, was 1986. For those who missed it they will have to wait until 2061.