Saturday, November 10, 2007

Comet Holmes

"Comet 17P/Holmes" by Happy Cat Dave

"Comets importing change of times and states,Brandish your crystal tresses in the sky
And with them scourge the bad revolting stars." - William Shakespeare, Henry VI

There is something new in our firmament: Comet Holmes has erupted into a bright "fuzzball" visible to the naked eye.

Discovered in 1892 by Edwin Holmes, the comet, officially named Comet 17/P, occasionally and inexplicably grows in magnitude. Between October 23-24, 2007, it increased in brightness until, by October 25, it appeared as the third brightest star in the Perseus constellation.

My husband lured me away from books and computer to step into the cold, clear night and observe this strange phenomenon. We reminisced about previous celestial events (the Northern Lights) and non-events (the much ballyhooed but ultimately disappointing Comet Khoutek of the early '70s) that we had shared.

And we observed:

“The endless, foolish merriment of stars
Beside the pale cold sorrow of the moon” -Harriet Monroe


Cathy Nelson said...

How cool is that! And how romantic too ; )

diane said...


One of my favorite, most beautiful visual memories, centers on a trip Tim and I took to Maine. Along a dark country road, we stopped to observe a field of fireflies mimicking and reflecting a sky full of stars.

I can still see it now, more than 30 years later.