Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Night Sky

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Last week, Cyndie and I wandered down the driveway to the high spot beside the hayfield about a half-hour after the sunset to watch the stars come out. We were seeking to view the comet, Neowise as it appeared to our northwest. It was the time of night when the mosquitos were thrilled to welcome our presence.

For that reason alone, I chose to remain standing (and walking back and forth) on the pavement instead of stirring up any additional flying terrorists from the fields on either side.

As the duskiness progressed, I struggled to perceive stars that Cyndie was noticing. The first spot of light I picked out was the planet Jupiter according to the night sky app on my phone. I was surprised about how long it seemed to take for the stars to appear even though we enjoy a luxury of having very little in the way of local nighttime light pollution.

It quickly became apparent to me that my peripheral vision was picking up more specific starlight than my direct gaze. That became my trick to spot Neowise before Cyndie did, just about a full hour after sunset.

It was the tail of the comet that my off-center vision detected. It stood out uniquely compared to the individual dots of light from stars. Once we knew exactly where to look, our binoculars provided valuable magnification to fully appreciate the view of Neowise.

By the time it showed up, we’d been staring at the sky so long my neck was tired, my back and ears were over-stimulated by mosquito irritations, and my eyes wanted to be asleep, so we didn’t linger long enough for the view to glow with adequate visibility for a photograph.

The reward of having looked directly at something passing through our inner solar system which wouldn’t return for many lifetimes (estimated 6,766 years from now) was plenty.

I was ready for bed.



Written by johnwhays

July 25, 2020 at 10:16 am

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