Monthly Archives: January 2014


“Holy smokes!”

Nancy Reads Comet

The Comet Chaser Awakes!

You may have seen this in the news. The European Space Agency’s “Rosetta” spacecraft was launched ten years ago with the plan for it to intercept Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko and drop a probe onto its surface this year.

Rosetta has been in hibernation for 2 1/2 years and was just stirred back to life yesterday by the ESA center in Germany.

The comet interception is set to happen this fall. There have been other spacecraft-to-comet missions before, but this will be the first time that a craft goes into orbit around a comet and anchors a probe to its surface. Here’s what it’s supposed to look like:


A little impressive, no?

COMET is Bestseller in North Carolina

Thanks to all the good folks in Salisbury, NC, who are reading THE NIGHT OF THE COMET. The Salisbury Post lists it as number 4 on their bestseller list, right between Earnest Gaines’ A LESSON BEFORE DYING and Pat Conroy’s THE DEATH OF SANTINI. Good company, I’d say.

In case you’re wondering where Salisbury, NC, is, here’s a map:


ISON, We’re So Over You: 73 More Comets in 2014!

For anyone who’s feeling jilted by Comet ISON’s poor showing in 2013, not to worry: 2014 will see 73 more comets (73!) looping around the Sun.

Comet Lovejoy, Dec. 31

Comet Lovejoy, Dec. 31

The Sky Live Blog lists all these comets, including the dates of their perihelion passages and expected maximum brightness, here.

According to Universe Today, four of the stand-out comets will be Comet Lovejoy (visible now), Comet PanSTARRS, Comet Oukaidmeden, and Comet Siding Spring.

Below is just a sampling of all of 2014’s comets–the names of the first 15 and the dates they’ll be closest to the Sun.

Comet 87P/Bus; Jan 7
Comet 293P/Spacewatch; Jan 9
Comet P/2007 R2 (Gibbs); Jan 11
Comet C/2013 H2 (Boattini); Jan 23      
Comet 129P/Shoemaker-Levy 3; Feb 6
Comet P/2013 N3 (PANSTARRS); Feb 11
Comet 169P/NEAT; Feb 12
Comet 292P/Li; Feb 13
Comet C/2013 P2 (PANSTARRS); Feb 17
Comet P/2013 TL117 (Lemmon); Feb 18
Comet C/2012 X1 (LINEAR); Feb 21
Comet 294P/LINEAR; Feb 26
Comet P/2007 H3 (Garradd); Mar 3
Comet 52P/Harrington-Abell; Mar 7
Comet P/2013 W1 (PANSTARRS); Mar 8

Comet Cocktail No. 4 at Maurepas Foods

The intrepid Nicola Wolf and I set out again last night in search of Comet Cocktail No. 4. We found it at Maurepas Food, in the New Orleans Bywater neighborhood.

I proposed the cocktail challenge to bartenders Tony and Lauren, two very capable and friendly people.

“See this here picture,” said I and, following my usual routine, brandished a reproduction of the cover of my famous novel, THE NIGHT OF THE COMET. “Can you do something like that?”

The Night of the Comet Cover Final

Tony hesitated. He wanted to take the picture home and study it for a week.

“No, no, no,” I said. “We don’t have a week. You have to do this now.”

Tony conferred with Lauren. “We’ll do it!” they said.

First they warmed a brandy snifter with hot water. We ate cheese and waited. Then Tony did something secretive with Pisco, 151 Rum, and Blue Curacao. He held a lit match to the concoction:

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Watch out! Fire!

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Lauren grated cinnamon over the flames, a nifty bar trick that produced a sparkly golden meteor shower above the glass:

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Here’s the finished drink. It was potent and delicious. Lifted me right up into space. I got lost on my way home.

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Salut, Tony and Lauren at Maurepas!

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