A comet and the universe and me.

I managed not to hear about comet Neowise in the western sky until I got back home to Colorado and my wife took me outside to look at it. Later on Maddy’s last walk we gazed at it a few more minutes, than retired to a good night sleep, after my rare nearly non-stop drive home from Phoenix.

Looking through fairly dark skies at just above 7,300’ it was a splendid sight - (Though there are the glowing domes of surrounding towns off in the distance, heck if meteorological conditions are just right we can see the very distant glow above Gallup, NM some 130 straight arrow miles away and a thousand feet lower.)

Last night we did the same, later I stepped outside for another look before turning in.

But sleep didn’t come, instead I was dreaming of tasting more of that night sky, so I snuck out of bed leaving wife and Maddy behind and returned to the night.

With my naked eyes it was a hazy spot and smudge, but with the binoculars it took on size, brightness and details. Quite a beautiful comet in fact. As a bonus the background took on oodles of stars and galaxies not visible to my naked eyes.

After so much looking at the comet I fell into an old past time from decades ago. During twilight comparing naked eye viewing with binocular viewing, but it was too late for the experiment. Early in the twilight it can be fun to use binoculars to find familiar constellations before they appear to your unaided eyes. Then you watch for the first glimmer to come into view as the pinpoints of light resolve into your constellation.

Playing this game allows my senses along with my Mind’s Eye to “get into” the depth of space. Since I do know the fundamentals of astronomy looking at the night sky is a three, nay four, dimensional visceral thing for me. With substance and layers of depth.

Then I started imagining the three dimensional reality of that distant comet moving past earth and the field of stars, heading towards the backside of the sun, which was way distant and a little below the horizon, as Neowise’s vapor cone is blown out and away from the sun. With a bit of gazing and mediating, that awareness become a visceral thing inside of me.

Earlier when I’d stepped out and watched through the binocular I was astounded to actually perceptibly watch the comet moving against a background star, in particular a pair of stars right in its path. They were quite close together and invisible to my eye alone. I just watched in amazement, taking it in as Neowise moving on towards one star in it’s path. My mind was racing in all sorts of directions as I watched and tried to absorb as much as I could.

I took a break and looked again and that apparent motion wasn’t happening. Now I only saw the one star, no second star, still I was left wondering if the other star was simply being blocked by the cone trailing the comet.

It was part of the reason I had to go back outside, to take another viewing after some time elapsed, even if barely an hour

Alas, it looked the same, no second star reappearing. Worse, I couldn’t discern the gap between my apparently lone star and the comet having closed any. Meaning the early movement I saw was some aberration.

So it goes. It’s an example of seeing something that would be wonderful to believe really happened, I mean how cool to actually sense the movement of a comet, the way I can the moon over the course of a long evening when there’s a well placed star to act as a milepost.

But, the commitment to honesty requires full spectrum skepticism, meaning testing my imagination to the best of my objective abilities, which I did. The evidence revealed that what I thought I saw, could not have been what I wanted it to be. A) no second star reappeared B) the distance to my other star had not discernibly shorted. That’s that. The other star must have been some moving object that I lost track of because I was focused on the main event. Heck I was free handing binoculars with 65 year old hands, all sorts of optical reflections flying around.

Having resolved that, the night sky beckoned my attention. All told I saw three shooting stars, and two satellites, along with a couple jets, and one brilliant Milky Way over head.

That brilliant night sky reminded me that it was among the biggest reasons I loved hitchhiking cross-country decades ago. Get out and far away from cities. Finding myself in the middle of nowhere Kansas, or Texas, Colorado, etc, as the night unfolded.

Having the awareness of standing on the edge, on top of this Earth of ours, often seeming wilderness all around me and nothing but the universe all above me. All night long, and then the joy and warmth of the first sun’s rays. Those are things worth tasting, experiencing. Then in ’70/’80 American, I could walk back to road or freeway and stick out my thumb and get a ride. Those were the days indeed.

Staring up at the Milky Way and constellations, the moon and all the rest out there above the dark land. Just the sky. It’s not that difficult to imagine oneself on the edge of this Earthly orb flying through space and being connected to all that out there. With just a much fathomless depth going on inside of my body, down to the cells and molecules and so on. Dancing on a sword’s edge.

:wink: I’m not occasionally called the Cosmic Cowboy for nothing - I transcended the looking at postcards phase of awareness and learned enough to step inside the image and strive to appreciate the reality beyond our own ego driven needs. It’s a complete tragedy that my experiences seems to have been so rare.*

Last night for a few moments I could touch those youthful days and the invigorating wonder of it all. To appreciate Earth as an entity through time and space and evolution’s cascade, to appreciate all of that genuinely flowing through my own veins.

I’m sad I never did a better job of conveying that wonder. I tried, I could have done more, but I did plenty, might have done a whole lot less.

Never connecting with that team I needed, no wind beneath my wings and all that. Looking at the reality of 2020 seems such a team never existed to begin with. So it goes, nowadays I’m doing my best to get beyond caring.

Seems that life and circumstance and my choices constantly pulled me away, not from the living and musing and wonder and trying to make sense of me and my world experience, but from the focused writing about it. I’m sure I could have been part of a kick ass team of provocative constructive critique against our slow descent into the current Alt-right world of belligerent self-delusion that is being funded and manipulated by a few ruthless sociopathic oligarchs.

I have a visceral appreciation for this planet as a living, thriving, evolving organism and me as an intimate part of it. One that empowers a healthy constructive perspective and an appreciation that would have made nurturing our biosphere and protecting our children’s future a self-evident top priority.

What’s the point. Not much, a desire to share what’s accumulated inside of me before I’m gone. I think that’s about it at this point.

What’s my point here? Not much, just jibber-jabbering and I guess a desire to share what’s accumulated inside of me before I’m gone. And I simply wanted to get it off my chest. Fortunately, I’m plenty compensated for by the wonderful people and good fortune within my life and times up to and including today. So don’t read too much into my pissy writer’s discontent.






Heard about this on the radio on the way to work the other day: Waterloo researchers help create largest 3D map of universe

In the article it says, “The map has been made available for anyone from scientists to people just interested in learning more, to use. It can be found on the Sloan Digital Sky Survey website.

I get dizzy thinking about the distances within our solar system. It’s unlikely I’ll ever check out this map of the universe since my brain might explode if I do.

I remember, once, in the desert night, really looking closely through some good binoculars at the stars. And I recall the moment that I saw (with my own sight) that, beyond the vastness of stars that I could see, there were a whole other vastness of stars and beyond that, more.

CC: I’m sad I never did a better job of conveying that wonder. I tried, I could have done more, but I did plenty, might have done a whole lot less.
I think you are coming along quite nicely at conveying the woundrous. For example, you said:
"... I started imagining the three dimensional reality of that distant comet moving past earth and the field of stars, heading towards the backside of the sun, which was way distant and a little below the horizon, as Neowise’s vapor cone is blown out and away from the sun. With a bit of gazing and mediating, that awareness become a visceral thing inside of me..."


What’s my point here? Not much, just jibber-jabbering and I guess a desire to share what’s accumulated inside of me before I’m gone. And I simply wanted to get it off my chest.
Your pissing in the wind got to me. It's ok. Didn't get in my whiskey.

Excellent picture, thanks Tim.

s, rest assured, I wouldn’t think of touching your whiskey - You need it too much to finish pickling your brain, carry on and enjoy.

Two nights ago it was cloudy so no sighting.

Last night was clear and with a crescent moon it was visually awesome and made for some more cosmic triangulation efforts.

Later at night I snuck out again and got to spend a bunch of time looking at it again. With the Big Dipper acting as handy benchmark and aiming tool, and to my immense satisfaction, I was able to find the patch of sky the comet was in a couple nights ago, so I was able to track how far it had moved in two days. Simple pleasures, I could well imagine that tomorrow it’ll no longer be visible, though if sky’s are clear, and good providence willing, I’ll see it one last time tonight. It’s definitely getting dimmer not just from being lower towards the horizon but also its gaining distance away from Earth. My fourth comet, fun stuff.

Boooo! It’s been cloudy here practically every evening the comet has been visible. Fortunately you seem to think about things the way I do, so your reports make me feel like I’m there too.

Thanks for letting me live vicariously through you. If you’re taking requests, please go to Easter Island next and tell me all about it.

Funny you should ask, I’ve never been to Easter Island, though my sister-in-law has.

But even better, saw this a while back, fills in a lot of blanks to their story. I think you might really enjoy it. If you like that one, check out the rest. It’s quite a well made series.

Easter Island - Where Giants Walked


Well it’s lightening and a bit of rain tonight. Not a ton, but enough to water the place and collect in our water troughs.

The heavy lightening activity is a bit scary. That last fire picture I shared turned out to be a lightening strike the previous evening and it was smoldering until the heat and wind of early midday fanned it into fast growing wildfire.

Oh, to be an archeologist who studies cultures like the one on Easter Island. Talk about a dream job.

I think that video is part of the series where they demonstrate that the statues may have been ‘walked’ to their locations by using ropes to tip them back and forth causing them to rotate a bit each time. I don’t have time to watch it at work, but maybe I can use the computer at home for once to watch it there.


True, though that breakthrough came before the program. I remember when I first heard about this, I knew about the laughed at legends that they walked their statutes into place. Never thinking much about it either way.

Then when I first heard about this study and saw their video of the demonstration, it was, well… it was like a cosmic giggle: hot damned and how in the world did they figure that out?

Me being the Earth Centrist that I am, am satisfied with the mystery rather than reaching for the ‘Aliens Did It’ answer. What recognition of connections and leap of imagination triggered those technological advance that enabled them to manufacture huge statues, that with a little help walked themselves to their final resting places.


The ‘walking’ megalithic statues (moai) of Easter Island Carl P.Lipo, Terry L.Hunt, Sergio Rapu Haoad

Journal of Archaeological Science
Volume 40, Issue 6, June 2013, Pages 2859-2866


Explaining how the monumental statues (moai) of Easter Island were transported has remained open to debate and speculation, including their resource expenditures and role in deforestation. Archaeological evidence including analysis of moai variability, particularly those abandoned along ancient roads, indicates transport was achieved in a vertical position. To test this proposition we constructed a precise three-dimensional 4.35 metric ton replica of an actual statue and demonstrate how positioning the center of mass allowed it to fall forward and rock from side to side causing it to ‘walk.’ Our experiments reveal how the statue form was engineered for efficient transport by a small number of individuals.

∏, there’s a detail to my third day of comet gazing that I’d meant to include then dropped it out of laziness, but have been kicking myself ever since.

The second night when doing my mental triangulations I was simplistically thinking of the comet tail as pointing to the sun and that it coincided with the path of the comet. Then the third night I noticed that the actual path of the comet was perhaps 15-20ish degrees above the direction Neowise’s tail was pointing at.

It only took a millisecond to realize, the comet isn’t heading directly towards the sun, it’s going to over shoot and move around the sun, so of course the discrepancy between actual path and comet tail increases as the comet gets closer to the sun. Little things like that are fun for me, simply observing and learning along with grasping bits and pieces of Evolution’s pageant.

Lordie knows that comet saw a slightly different looking Earth during it’s last pass, but it was still recognizable as the same planet, during it’s next pass in 7 millennia Earth will be a totally different looking sphere as it’s finally absorbing the last of humanity’s insult and destruction.


Regarding statue walking, what did they make strong enough and long enough ropes out of? There are lots of great modern day reenactments of some ancient activity that demonstrates how they may have done something. But unless they use the materials available at that time and place, it’s kinda pointless.

Regarding the comet, I was shut out of viewing it due to crap weather. Maybe with cryogenics or through very healthy living, I can see it next time 'round.

During those couple nights lost in the stars I also noticed Jupiter which was starting to line up with three other stars into a roof gable formation, with two stars lined up to either side of Jupiter, which was nearly in the middle between them and one bright star at 12 o’clock forming the peak.

So I’m watching these imaginary triangle formations shifting slightly, as I walked Maddy night after night I tracked the slight movement, which was made (sort of) exact thanks to the imaginary triangle shapes the three stars formed with Jupiter, then we had some cloudy weather for a while and it could have been as much as two to three weeks that I didn’t notice the formation. Then when I finally had time for the dark skies again, I found Jupiter easy enough, but nothing worked so far a my pretty little triangle alignments. Beat my head over it for a couple nights before resorting to google, only to discover my left most star was Saturn. All was light and I realize I wasn’t crazy, just stupid. Moving benchmarks suck. :wink:

Then it was still a while before I found out about the coming great conjunction of 2020, but since the faux pas of mistaking Saturn for a star this past Aug/Sep, caused me to pay even closer attention to the movement of the two, it’s made what I saw last night, that much for fun and personal.