Why I like Comets
My Theater of Comets Website is not to
be confused with a
scientific treatise. While there is some science involved, this website
strives to provide a more relaxed rambling
through over 30 years of enjoying and observing comets.
My cometary tale (excuse the pun) began in the mid 1970's with Comet
West and is still going strong, 30 something years later in 2008.While
I did not observe Comet West myself, it was the comet
that got me started.
I joined the Black River Astronomical
Society in the fall of 1976 at the ripe, young age of 22 years.
At one of the first meetings I attended the guys were abuzz with
excitement over the still recent apparition of Comet West. They showed
me pictures and pencil drawings and one of the members, Carl Peck, an
avid comet chaser, gave a talk on it. I remembered being amazed at his
knowledge of comets and something
he said hit home with me. Basically, he said that comets were transient
creatures that roamed the very depths of space, some since the
beginning of time. Comets, he went on, held the key to all life
in the universe and actually contained the seeds of life.Every comet,
he said , was a once in a lifetime event in that every
comet is totally unique unto itself. Even periodic comets, he
explained, returning again and again, exhibit totally different
behaviour over each individual apparition. That talk ignited a fire
in my young brain, and I determined that
night, so many years ago, to observe every comet within my powers.
In the early years, not owning a telescope or camera, I depended on
verbage and pencil drawings to record
my impressions of these ethereal visitors. As circumstances
permitted I obtained a telescope and camera and began
capturing images on film. And more recently I've converted over to
I've run the gamut of emotions with my comets. For example, the 1986
apparition of Comet Halley was an abysmal disappointment, probably
because the advertising media hyped it to such extremes. (Buy a
telescope!!!) The other side of the coin, of course, was the
spactacular outburst of
Comet Holmes, my all-time favorite Comet.
once in a lifetime event was the Shoemaker-Levy comet, breaking
up into pieces and then colliding into the atmosphere of Jupiter. This
was the first time in the entirety of recorded history that anyone had
witnessed a stellar body colliding into a planet. I also listened to
Jupiter's radio signal on a short wave receiver and
was actually able to hear the disruption in Jupiter's radio signal as
the cometary fragments impacted the Jovian atmosphere.
On this site I will display my photos and relay my impressions of the
various comets I've observed over the last few decades. Some
information will be quite in-depth and some will be just a casual
brush. It all depends on my interest level at the time, condition of my
equipment, how good the apparition was, etc. For instance, Comet
McNaught was one of the most spectacular comets of recent times.
However it reached max brightness and size while in the southern
hemisphere. The few weeks that it spent in the northern sky was in
January, during a particularly heavy weather pattern that was stalled
overtop my location for weeks. The only night it was clear during the
entire apparition was January 10th. Thus I only have photos from that
Additionally, I've seen a lot over the years. I've seen comets breaking
space, comets colliding with planets, comets being struck by eartly
bombs, sattelites being placed into comet's tails to accumulate
cometary matter. This is an exciting time for comet chasers to be
alive. I'm still waiting for that huge comet that will stretch clear
the sky and be bright enough to see in broad
And.................I think I'll just keep looking until I
find it !