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 digital imaging.

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.

Another 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 one night.

Additionally, I've seen a lot over the years. I've seen comets breaking up in 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 across the sky and be bright enough to see in broad daylight..............

And.................I think I'll just keep looking until I find it !