The Comet McNaught

Tonight Rob and I finally saw the Comet McNaught!

Last Wednesday Rob suggested we go out for dinner at a cafe at Cottesloe Beach. “What a wonderful idea,” I replied.

We enjoyed a meal together, watching the sun dip towards the horizon and making a simmering pathway across the sea towards us. Rob said we needed to be outside by sunset as he had arranged a surprise…what could that be?

At sunset we were standing on the deck, along with growing numbers of other people, gazing towards the horizon. It was a magic sunset, the colours reflected in the clouds streaming from the western sky. Once the colour had gone and Rob still seemed to be waiting, I asked if it was time to go. Then he asked me if I had noticed all the other people there. Well, sort of, but I had thought they were just enjoying the sunset as I was. Then he asked if I had seen anything in the paper that morning that would give me a clue about this “surprise”. I often don’t see the paper so “No…”

“The Comet McNaught is in the southwest sky at sunset. It won’t be this close for another 42 million years!” he explained. So we stayed for a while, but the clouds on the horizon must have been blocking our view. We went home…

Two nights later, we were babysitting Tom and Alythea while Tristan and Blaine had some much-needed time to themselves, and Christopher called after we had finally put the 2 little people to bed. “The Comet’s really clear in the southwest sky!” Rob was doing the dishes so suggested I go and see where I could see it from then come back and tell him so he could go and have a look. So I raced around the corner but there were too many buildings; I raced over the nearby Rosalie Oval but there were too many trees (not a common sentiment for me). I raced home, sad that I could not find it for Rob to enjoy. As soon as I came in the door Rob was a little terse – within 10 seconds of me leaving both children had woken. He had had to make up a bottle to try to give Alythea, and had to calm Tom down as well. Of course once I got back all was quiet. So no comet that night. I went to bed thinking that it just was not to be.

During the next day I thought that we could climb the DNA tower in Kings park that evening, as we wouldn’t be babysitting. We HAD to be able to see it from there! So after dinner we duly drove up the hill and parked, along with lots of other people. As we climbed towards the top of the tower we heard “Hi Mum and Dad!” from…Jeanette! She and Christopher were watching a Shakespeare play over the road and had come to see the comet again during the interval. We kept on going up and from the top of the tower we gazed at the western sky, the sunlight still a golden glow although the sun was long set. Against a backdrop of the dusk sky above was…

* The Comet McNaught – a bright star with the long tail drifting upwards into the twilight, and created by the solar winds because the comet was heading towards the sun.

* The new moon, a goldy-silvery crescent in the mauve of the sky.

* The planet Venus, a brilliant star just above the moon.

Pure, absolute joy!!!

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