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Dangers of Stargazing

Posted Thursday, November 8, 2007, at 4:22 PM

The Comet In Question!
You'd think something 150 million kilometers away couldn't figure out a way to hurt you, wouldn't you? Well if so, read on and prepare to be disabused.

There's a new comet in town. Well, not exactly in "town." It's still way out there, but it's headed downtown as comets measure these things. It's Comet Holmes, and a week or so ago it went through an amazing transformation. Over the course of just a few hours it swelled up in apparent size until it was one third the size of the full moon, clearly and obviously (if you know where to look) visible to the naked eye, or even an eye in a flannel shirt or light fall jacket.

When I heard about this through the comet grapevine, I immediately looked up where exactly the comet could be spotted. That evening I didn't get home until well after dark, so I got out of my car and walked back into my driveway, carefully shading my eyes to keep them light-sensitive, and looked up. Sure enough, there was Comet Holmes, east and down a bit from the North Star, brighter than anything around it!

What the astronomic types had failed to warn me about however, was that the comet's location was only two or three degrees east of the location of the motion-sensor floodlights on a pole in my driveway. I was all rapt with the glory of the Universe, squinting into infinity, when I took one more step forward and my retinas were suddenly charred by two five-hundred-watt floodlamps.

There's a lesson in there somewhere about the Inverse Square Law.

Anyway, that's the last time I let my guard down. I shall henceforth do my stargazing through a welder's helmet.

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Stargazing in any form is a dreamer's occupation, and you have to have your manure together to dream and be optimistic......... I like your optimism.............

-- Posted by Johnny Yuma on Thu, Nov 8, 2007, at 10:35 PM

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