Trivia

Hard

Which Astronomical Phenomenon Did Mark Twain Predict Would Coincide With His Death?

Enormous Solar Flares
Meteor Showers
A Comet
A Supernova
A photograph of Halley's comet.
W. Liller/NASA (NSSDCA)

Answer: A Comet

November 30, 1835, one newborn Samuel Langhorne Clemens, later and better known as Mark Twain, entered the world; he was just two weeks late to witness the celestial passage of Halley’s Comet (which had passed by Earth on November 16, 1835).

Despite missing the show, Twain maintained an affinity for the comet and often joked that he came into the world with it and he’d go out of the world with it, too. In 1909 he wrote:

I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: “Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.”

He lived a long life and, true to his word, at the age of 74 he died of a heart attack on April 21, 1910—a single day after the comet’s bright and spectacular passage by Earth.

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