Finally! A Comet!

After weeks of Noel fretting about it, we finally saw it.

Dave O came over for his weekly visit, with wine and his good spirit and that laugh that can only bring a huge smile to your face. And, after having a few wines under our belts, we decided if we could see this damned comet Noel kept raving on about that he wanted to see.

It was a mild evening, with long, thin clouds streaking across the sky but for the most part, it was clear in the comet’s supposed general direction. The sky was fading from an orange to an ochre colour, and, beyond one of the darker, pencil-like clouds, a star streaked slightly away from us.

At first, we assumed the bright star-like dot was a planet, like Venus, but it was falling away from us at too rapid a pace. Could it be the International Space Station again? No, we concluded. It must be that comet Noel so wanted to see.

Now, the comet was called the Comet McNaught, the brightest comet seen in the Southern Hemisphere for 40 years. Unfortunately, the weather hadn’t cooperated too much with us; every day either clouds were on the horizon or the entire sky was clouded over. Not the greatest comet-spotting weather.

So, on the whim, here we were, three blips in eternity watching a comet many many miles away, not bound to pass our way for another 85,000 years, give or take a few thousand years. Quite humbling.

As we were talking and joking about it — and this was about 8:30 PM — our neighbour Philippa slammed her bathroom window shut. How dare middle class, crass people like us talk in our own back yard at a decent hour? Especially while she was farting away on her loo… but I digress.

We talked about Halley’s Comet, how it wasn’t going to be around until 2061 so we would be maybe alive (my point-of-view) and maybe dead (Dave’s point-of-view). And it kinda dawned on me, staring at this small point of light disappearing behind a group of gathering dark clouds that my children (if I have any), my children’s children, and my children’s children’s children will never see that comet. Indeed, if humanity survived another 85,000 years — and let’s morbidly assume for a moment we won’t — we will be perhaps the last humans to see that comet. What a humbling experience.

Moral of the story: this moment won’t come to pass again; use it wisely and enjoy it for what it’s worth. Many others may never get the chance.

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