Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Cosmic

I looked out at the sky yesterday evening and tonight in the hope of seeing a green light, up there somewhere near Orion's Belt. Of course it was too cloudy and I couldn't even see any stars, let alone the glowing luminescence of Comet Lovejoy which is apparently at its most visible around about now. Have you seen it? I find it hard to get my head around the idea that it's 44 million miles away and is basically a big lump of ice that orbits the sun. It'll be another 8000 years before it's back...oh... these numbers are just too big.


I remember being given lessons about the night sky at primary school. It's funny how so many little things I was taught at a very young age stick forever, but very little of what I try to learn now (like the definition of the word intractable for some reason) maintains a permanent position in my brain. Maybe it's just run out of space.  If that's the case perhaps 'recognition of Orion's Belt' should really move out in favour of 'having an ever-expanding vocabulary that includes the word intractable' - but it just won't budge.

intractable
ɪnˈtraktəb(ə)l/
adjective
  1. hard to control or deal with.
    "intractable economic problems"

  2. (of a person) difficult or stubborn.

When I was about six we learnt about Halley's Comet too, because there was another comet in the news around that time (I think). Teacher told us that Halley's Comet was the most famous one and that we would be lucky enough to see it in our lifetimes because it was due again in the far distant future...1986! The thought of myself at 23 was as mind-blowing then as hearing that Halley's Comet had been travelling around the sun for thousands of years.



Later, perhaps when I actually was 23, I thought it a wonderful coincidence that Bill Haley should call his band 'Comets'.  Uh.


I don't recall ever seeing Halley's Comet that year but maybe I wasn't looking.

As far as Comet Lovejoy goes, though, what a sweet name. I'd like to think it was named after the character from the eponymous, long-running but frankly rather crap BBC TV series (which just so happened to make its appearance in 1986 too and much of which was filmed around here), but in this case it's Terry Lovejoy, an Australian amateur astronomist (I'm so glad I'm typing, not speaking). But I still can't help picturing a different kind of star altogether when I hear the name and there are worse things to think about, I'm sure you'll understand.



16 comments:

  1. Wasn't aware of this new comet - I'll have to keep an eye out if get any more clear nights. Did Halley's Comet make an appearance 70's? I also recall be ing told about it at school. I definitely remember hoping to see it in '86 and even wrote (ahem) a 'poem' about this somewhat 'hopeless' hope. Yep, didn't catch a glimpse. Do you remember the one that came a bit later which I think I did see - called something like Kohoutek? Now, 'Lovejoy' - yes, it WAS crap but in a lovely, indulgent and comforting way. It certainly made me want to visit Suffolk. I do not accept that our present comet friend is named after a two-bit astronomer; this is just a cover. It really IS named after our friendly but roguish antiques dealer. Well, it is for me.

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    1. Oh yes, what was that other comet... I had forgotten until you said but I didn't see it, I hope it was good! I've never seen one, only a few shooting stars...
      Know what you mean about Lovejoy. It's like an old jumper and a cup of tea on a rainy afternoon. I like spotting the recognisable places on there too but they're cut in a weird way so he might come out of a shop front that I know to be here, but walk out onto a street which I know to be in another town completely. Still, he is rather easy on the eye so what does that matter...!

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  2. Wasn't there a Halle Bop Comet up there at one point? I think I did see that but remember it mainly for the way Will Self kept adding Bops to the end of it on "Have I got News of You". Where is Will Self, while we are on the subject, will we see him again during our lifetimes?

    Yes, Lovejoy is a great name, I imagine the Astronomist knew full well he would have to take second place to the perma-tanned antiques dealer in everyone's mind, images of his cuban heels forever trailing through space. Bless, then I guess he just shrugged his shoulders and went back to writing Horrorscopes ;o)

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    1. Oh yes, another one I'd forgotten 'til now. And I have a vague memory of the Will Self 'bop' thing too. Indeed, where is he now? I think I last saw him as a talking head on something and he was looking very beardy.

      Hehe... I must check my horoscope now. Maybe it'll tell me I'm about to see a comet. Or meet a tall dark handsome antiques dealer.

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  3. Ooh, if only the weather would stay clear I would have a good excuse to finally visit the tiny observatory up in Hampstead (I always forget about it or the weather is rubbish). I remember the fuss about Halley's but I only saw stuff on telly. I have been told that Hayley was the most popular girls' name that year, though.

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    1. Lovely to see your new post about the observatory and hope to read more after you visit it some time.
      Is that really true about the name Hayley?!

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  4. I've seen the Space Station a few times recently, but had no success with spotting the comet so far. We must be running out of time. It's clear tonight, but bloody windy again - too cold!
    (Your post triggered an oblique memory for me, which I'm currently honing into a post of my own. You'll see what I mean when you read it!)

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    1. Ooh, the Space Station sounds rather exciting. I wouldn't know what to look for but now I'm going to have to read up. I find it all a bit mind-boggling!

      Will be popping over to UOTS shortly to catch up on your new post too.

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  5. The 'Lovejoy' re-run episodes even ran on a Toronto station for a while. Not the greatest series, perhaps, but still better (in terms of the script-writing) than any of the American shows on offer. For me, British writers could do no wrong for the longest time. Sadly, I am seeing the previously high standards beginning to slip though. I suspect it's the onslaught and influence of American television series.

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    1. Thanks Marie, f it doesn't sound big-headed I agree that British writing has set some very high standards and in the past particularly. Perhaps most memorably for me in the comedies of the '60s and '70s, like Steptoe & Son, The Likely Lads - did you get them there in Canada?
      Every now and then something still shines out but a lot seems to be watered down more, written by large teams of people aiming for mass popularity and yes, more influenced by American TV. I don't know why that should be ... I'm all for "vive la difference"!

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    2. I don't recall seeing Steptoe & Son, nor The Likely Lads. I did watch many of the mystery series such as Morse, Frost, Wexford, etc. - and, of course, Upstairs, Downstairs. I also loved the early episodes of Heartbeat, but gave up on it when I viewed an outlandish episode in which one of the characters travelled to Australia and wasn't heard from again. The rest of the cast trooped over, only to discover that she'd been murdered by a serial killer - how very American!! (Johnny Byrne, the scriptwriter on the best of the early episodes must have rolled over in his grave!)

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    3. I know what you mean. I always lose faith in a programme if they bring someone back after they're supposed to have died...they didn't really die.... it was just a dream... or they suddenly have an identical twin... No matter how far-fetched a basic story idea might be, we don't like being treated as fools!

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  6. The thing that never bores me when I look at stars is how old the light is.

    American TV is like everything that's branded American...it has to be sold from Key West to Seattle...it's invented nature is bland.

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    1. Me too. The words 'space time continuum' have just popped into my head. That's as far as my boggled brain can go!

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  7. If you look very hard and very carefully next to the orion belt of Lady JF you will see every now and again and only very briefley the Constellation of Tinker Dill.

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    1. You're right! I just caught sight of his beret! :-)

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