Monthly Archives: May 2013

Summer Reading Pick in South Carolina Addendum

My publicist points out that the article I cited from The State newspaper out of Columbia, SC, is actually a reprint from The Atlanta Journal Constitution. Thank you, AJC!

And here’s the state flag of Georgia:


Summer Reading Pick in South Carolina

This just in: THE NIGHT OF THE COMET is on a Southern Titles Summer Reading list in The State newspaper, out of Columbia, South Carolina:

“‘The Night of the Comet’ by George Bishop: Obsessed with the coming of Comet Kohoutek, a frustrated high school science teacher tries to bond with his 14-year-old son, Alan Jr., by giving him a telescope. But instead of pointing it at the stars, Alan Jr. focuses the instrument on the bedroom window of his neighbor and classmate, Gabriella. The closer the comet draws, the more relationships fracture. Aug. 6. Random House. $29.95.”

And here’s a picture of the the South Carolina flag, which I always liked:


The Great Comet of 1881

“E. L. Trouvelot. The Great Comet of 1881. Observed on the night of June 25-26 at 1h. 30m. A.M.” From Stephen Ellcock’s FB catalogue, “The Celestial Archive: Pre-Space Age Images of the Heavens.”

Great Comet of 1881

Comets and Aerolites

“Comets and Aerolites,” from Reynolds’s Series of Astronomical Diagrams, by James Reynolds, 1847. An aerolite is a meteorite, specifically, a stony meteorite consisting of silicate materials.

The falling stars you see in a meteor shower are from the “dust trail” left by comets as they circle through the solar system.

Comets and Aerolites

Image from Stephen Ellcock’s FB page “The Celestial Archives: Pre-Space Age Images of the Heavens.”

Comet Lithographs, 1850s

“Comets.” One of nine wall hangings, all on astronomical themes, that were among many produced by the Working Men’s Educational Union in the 1850s. They were printed lithographically on cotton, probably to avoid paper duty. The hangings would have been used in lectures, held at various locations, to illustrate the latest advances in knowledge.

Comet Lithographs 1850s

From Stephen Ellcock’s FB page “The Celestial Archive: Pre-Space Age Images of the Heavens.”

Moon and Planet Phases, 17th Cen.

Maria Clara Eimmart (1676-1707). Phase of the Moon, Phases of Venus, Aspects of Jupiter, Aspects of Saturn, late 17th century.

Our Moon tonight, by the way, is a waxing crescent.

Moon and Planet Phases

From Stephen Ellcock’s “The Celestial Archive: Pre-Space Age Images of the Heavens.”

Commander Chris Hadfield Sings “Space Oddity” from the International Space Station

If you haven’t seen this yet, it’s worth a view. Astronaut Chris Hadfield posted this video of him singing David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” aboard the International Space Station. It’s well done, and surprisingly touching.

Balloon Rapid Response for ISON

Plans are afloat to launch a giant balloon into the atmosphere to study Comet ISON as it sweeps around the Sun this fall. The Balloon Rapid Response for ISON (BRRISON) will carry a gondola of instruments up into near space to take photos and measurements of the comet, which scientists are calling the “Comet of the Century.”



Texas Star Party

A piece in the New York Times recently about the annual gathering of astronomy buffs in Fort Davis, Tx., for the 34th Texas Star Party:

Texas Star Party

About 500 astronomers, pro and amateur, have come from around the world to view the stars from this small, dark town. Fort Davis provides a light-pollution-free environment that’s surprisingly rare in the U.S. today.

The Great Comet of 1910

Another find from Stephen Ellcock, a series of French postcards published to commemorate the appearance of The Great Comet of 1910.

Great Comet of 1910

An odd narrative in the cards: The Earth, Moon, and Sun are anxiously watching the approach of the comet. At first they welcome the comet, but then the comet strikes the Earth, getting one of its points embedded near Alaska. The Moon and the Sun pull the comet free, and it sails off, crying blood tears, while the Earth recovers with a bandage.