Posted by: T. Boyd | February 23, 2009

I will give you the treasures of darkness… (Comet Lulin)

” I will give you the treasures of darknesslulin-sketch
and the hoards in secret places,
that you may know that it is I, the Lord,
the God of Israel, who call you by your name.”
(Is. 45:3 ESV)

Monday morning I sketched what I saw of Comet Lulin, supposedly a bright comet visible right now.  But believe me, it is not very bright in the area where I live (near Bowling Green, VA).  (Let’s talk sometime about light pollution and what we could do to slow it down or even reverse it)

This is the 3rd or 4th time I have seen the comet through binoculars and telescopes.  Here is a log of my struggles this morning.

4:01 a.m. – Glanced at clock, moaned and got up anyway … bathroom thermometer says it is 27.5 deg. outside.  Hmm… maybe it will be cloudy… nope crystal clear … oh, well, better get out there.

4:25 – Glad I set up telescope last night, but Saturn is behind the trees, and the comet is supposed to be close to it ,,, so I struggle to move telescope to a better spot … OH WOW! … suddenly I am awake when I see a beautiful bright streak of a meteor whiz by … right by Saturn.  Thank you, Lord, for that encouragement.  And there is Saturn in the telescope view … what a beautiful jewel it is, so bright against the dark background, even with the rings almost invisible … they will be on edge for several more months.

4:55 – Using my red l.e.d. headlamp, and a printed copy of the chart of Lulin’s path, I finally catch the comet in the eyepiece … I’ve got to improve my methods.  At 68 years old, getting down on the ground 4 or 5 times to aim the telescope, having it totter as it almost slips off from my too-small platform … it’s too much for this old guy.  But the weariness fades as the Comet comes in focus, and I am young again.

5:30 –  I wander out onto the street knowing it would be a better viewing spot next time, away from my 60 feet tall pine trees, 28 in number.  Yes, it is, and I can see so much of the sky here … but suddenly I am embarrassed as the paper deliverer drives by … he or she probably wonders why this guy is out along the road, hiding his eyes from the headlights, with a blue ski mask over his head … Maybe some morning I will stop him or her and explain what I am doing … and also tell the neighbor who just drove by.

6:00 – Time to go inside and ruin my night vision by turning on the computer screen and start this article … actually that can wait – but slipping between the sheets, I remember that tomorrow morning Lulin and Saturn will be really close together, an event too exciting to miss.   Surely my wife will want to see that too –  or maybe it will be cloudy.

Some good links for Comet Lulin:

Comet Lulin at Visual Astronomy.

A good chart for the next 2 days.

Sky and Telescope on Comet Lulin with complete charts.

Note: This article written by me is copyrighted 2009 by Caroline Progress, used by permission.

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