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on comets that fail to live up to expectations June 11, 2013

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, poetry.
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English: This color photograph of the comet Ko...

English: This color photograph of the comet Kohoutek (C/1973 E1) was taken by members of the lunar and planetary laboratory photographic team from the University of Arizona, at the Catalina observatory with a 35mm camera on January 11, 1974. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you pay much attention to amateur astronomy, you’ve undoubtedly heard of comet ISON. Last fall, it was getting press as the “comet of the century”, despite the fact that it was still a year from perihelion.

Yesterday on my internet wanderings I came across an article that said ISON is already falling well below predicted brightness values, and I thought of comet Kohoutek, the infamous non-event of 1973.

Today I am looking for a good quote or poem for an activity on finding exoplanets, and I stumbled upon The planets : a cosmic pastoral by Diane Ackerman, which includes  “The Other Night (Comet Kohoutek)”. It is not what I need, but it needed to be shared.  Here is the first stanza.

Last night, while
cabbage stuffed with
brown sugar, meat and
raisins was baking in the
oven, and my potted holly,
dying leafmeal from red-spider,
basked in its antidote malathion,
I stepped outside to watch Kohoutek
passing its dromedary core through the
eye of a galaxy. But only found a white
blur cat-napping under Venus: gauzy, dis-
solute, and bobtailed as a Manx.

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