Thursday, November 15, 2007

Fuzzball and the Night Sky

I have always been fascinated with the night sky. On the hilltop, a clear night brings out a vast sparkling sky of countless stars. Long ago I memorized the major constellations and the brightest stars. I have followed the seasons in the sky for many years and find their familiar patterns give a sense of comfort and order. But occasionally something interesting happens and disturbs that order.
The past few weeks a comet has appeared and is currently in the constellation Perseus. The comet is named Holmes. It unexpectedly brightened significantly and can now be seen with the naked eye. It looks like a glowing fuzzball rather than the typical comet. This is because the tail is pointing directly away from the earth and can’t be seen behind the comet.
People used to think that comets were omens that brought great disruptions and change. When that was pointed out to an astronomer during a radio interview, he responded with tongue-in–cheek cynicism, “it’s just an icy dirtball and doesn’t care about us.” Still, it is an object of awe and inspiration.
And as an inspiration, I have included the night sky in several of my works, including my most recent. I hope to post that on my website soon.

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