I drove to the highest point around this side of the lake before sunset this evening with high hopes of seeing Comet McNaught. I even packed my telescope and tripod in the car.
Unfortunately, the article clearly stated a “clear view of the western horizon is essential, because the comet hangs very low.” My view was not so clear. From upon the hill I could see clearly enough should the sky be without obstacles, but that was not the case. In fact, the western horizon practically overflowed with high cirrus clouds. The sun itself hung like a distorted figure just before it plunged the world into darkness.
When I realized I had time for other things and probably didn’t have opportunity to see the comet, I walked down the hill and snapped a few pictures of my consolation prize: the sunset. Yes, I went to see a comet and all I got was a lousy sunset.
But not so fast. It really wasn’t all that bad. And I did rush to the top of the hill after the sun fell dark. You know, just in case… Alas, all hope was lost because the comet hid behind clouds galore that were intent on ruining the best chance to see this celestial wonder.
Still, here’s what I saw instead while I stood on the shore and sent my gaze westward.
As you can see, there’s nothing but clouds and light bouncing and bending through them. Amazingly, what I noticed was that the clouds had gathered only west of my location. The rest of the sky was clear. Argh!
Nevertheless, you can’t fault the pretty painting.
Yes, that’s a duck in the left-bottom portion of that photo. I’m not sure what kind because it moved silently by me and I didn’t notice it until later. Besides, darkness lay upon the world where I stood and certainly provided little means by which to identify waterfowl.
Oh, you can see downtown Dallas at left in each of those photos. It’s also visible in this shot which provides a much wider view. As I pointed out, you’ll immediately note the clouds only floated in the western sky. I believe it was a conspiracy.
Regrettably, these photos are the best I can offer from my excursion to see the comet. Next time, I’ll schedule clear skies when one decides to grace us with its presence.
Now, because the comet is spinning around the sun, it will be seen from the southern hemisphere as it makes its escape back into the coldness of space. Maybe it’s time for that trip to Brazil I’ve been dreaming about…
Wait! Tomorrow is actually our last chance. I have another opportunity to see it just before the sun comes up in the morning, and again when the sun goes down tomorrow night. Perhaps I’ll give that a shot. Is it too late to schedule clear skies?