Stargazing and Comet NEOWISE
Last night, after a long evening of Minecraft Parkour, we took the boys out west of town to view a once-in-a-millennium event: the comet NEOWISE. The Comet NEOWISE was discovered on March 27, 2020. It was named after the space telescope that spotted it first. It is visible to the naked eye through July 23rd. After that, the comet will start moving away and will grow fainter and fainter, disappearing into the abyss. Once gone, human eyes will not gaze upon the comet for another 6,800 years.
As we gazed endlessly into the starry night, I gave the boys my phone with the Skyview light app. The app uses your location and camera to view the night sky through your phone. In addition, the app has a circular reticle in the center. So, as you scan the sky through the app, you place that reticle on the star you are seeing. It then tells you the name of the star or planet and some brief history. In addition, if the star is part of a constellation, the app connects all stars in the constellation and superimposes a picture of what the constellation is supposed to look like. So, for example, a bear will be superimposed over ursa major (the big dipper). Eventually, I had to take the phone away when the boys accidentally called someone from New Mexico. But, before that fateful call, the boys saw the hunter, centaur, “lady dumping water”, a crab, and a scorpion. Also, they identified Saturn and Jupiter. The app also shows where the International Space Station is located. Unfortunately, it was on the other side of the world (beneath our feet). Lastly, both boys saw the comet.
In all, we spent about 40 minutes gazing into the night sky before the noises of the night compelled the boys back into the truck and us back to town: the squeeky gate that Colton swore could not be moved by mere wind alone, the intermittent yips of nearby coyotes, the swooping of flying creatures, and the rustling of grass as critters navigated invisible trails just outside the reach of our strained eyes. In all, everyone made it to the comforts and security of our home. Our moose-of-a-dog Marley was excited to know we were home. Soon, we were all in our bed, closing our eyes and drifting off to sweet dreams.