Friday, March 8, 2013

So Close, Yet So Far Away!

Why should you gather your children or grandchildren next Tuesday or Wednesday to look up into the twilight skies, very near the moon, to see a comet called Pan-STARRS?
by Charlie Leck

I suppose, just for the heckuv it! But there are greater reasons. A family together, outside, beneath a crescent moon at dusk, is not a bad thing, if not a wonderful thing.

We are told to wait until “the sun is fully below the horizon to scan for the comet in the darkening twilight.”

It would be a wonderful time to be with my grandchildren. Baseball games, water parks and Disneyland are great, but this is even better. In fact, it may be the real “greatest show on Earth!”

Tell the little ones that this comet is thought to be billions of years old; and, perhaps, explain what a single billion is. Tell them that Pan STARRS originated way out in space, well beyond the planets Neptune and Pluto. It has never passed the earth before. Imagine! In billions of years it has never passed Earth before.

And you would even think of missing it!

Wish, if not pray, for clear skies. Then, at the moment the sun sets below the horizon, look to the western skies and find the moon. Near the moon you should see it.

Then, after the sighting, go for the hot chocolate. It beats the champagne! Tell the children that an even bigger comet will be within view this coming November. Astronomers say that the comet ISON will be viewable and may even outshine the moon. Make a date to be together for it!

The viewings will humble us, making us realize, I hope, how finite and minuscule we are in the reality of everything.

Now, you’ve been forewarned. Don’t miss it.

This, I expect, is the most important blog I’ve ever written!

If you want a little preview, and an explanation of what is coming, here’s a brief but thorough web site you can visit to see photographs and learn more about Pan-STARRS.

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