Friday, January 12, 2007

Comet McNaught

I left Bonnie at the anti-Iraq war demonstration in downtown Petaluma and wandered off to find an intersection with a view to the west. It promised to be the coldest night of the year. I was armed with my East German Army Hat and garage-sale heavy coat and gloves and binoculars.

I crossed Washington Street and made my way up to Hill Plaza Park.

Venus became visible—or maybe I finally happened to look in the right spot to see it. I knew from the diagram posted yesterday that the comet should be about half the distance from the horizon that Venus was, and off to the lower right from Venus. I searched with binoculars the pieces of sky visible between houses. Too may houses. Perhaps if I walked up the hill to the west.

At corner of Keokuk and Prospect Streets, I looked down Prospect, which ran almost due west. There it was, barely visible between a distant power pole and a rooftop. Comet McNaught.

I'd just sent my camera off to be repaired, so I was forced to use what's left of my memory to record the comet's appearance. It was certainly bright, but very tiny. I could only imagine how impressive it would have been outside the glare of the recently set sun.

Later, back at Bonnie's, I stole the sky and trees out of an old photograph and photoshopped up this image, which captures the way I remember it. Get back about six feet from your monitor and look at this:

Now that I look at it, maybe three feet away is more like it.


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