Comets and meteors have fascinated the human race since they were first spotted in the night sky.
But without science and space exploration to aid understanding of what these chunks of rock and ice are – ancient cultures often turned to myth and legend to explain them.
The Greeks and Romans believed that the appearance of comets – meteors and meteor showers were portentous.
They were signs that something good or bad had happened or was about to happen.
The arrival of a comet could herald the birth of a great figure and some people have even argued that the star in the sky which the Persian Magi followed to Bethlehem to see the newborn Jesus was actually a comet.
Caesar’s adopted son Octavian (soon to be the Emperor Augustus) made much of the comet – which burned in the sky during the funerary games held for Caesar.
This portentous event was frequently celebrated in the ancient sources.
In his epic poem the Aeneid – Virgil describes how ‘a star appeared in the daytime and Augustus persuaded people to believe it was Caesar’.