Waiting for Comet Godot


Comet Pan-STARRS?

I just can’t see it.

The past two evenings, when it was supposed to be visible, we couldn’t find it.  Maddeningly, others have great photos of the thing.

Here’s a photo of where it was supposed to be the evening of March 12.  Nice sliver of a Moon.

A view to the west over south Grand Prairie, Texas, showing the sliver of the new Moon, but a no-show Comet Pan-STARRS, March 12, 2013.  Photo by Ed, Kathryn and Peanut.

A view to the west over south Grand Prairie, Texas, showing the sliver of the new Moon, but a no-show Comet Pan-STARRS, March 12, 2013. Photo by Ed, Kathryn and Peanut.

We watched for over an hour, from just after the Sun’s winking out in a blaze of orange (Texas dust and DFW smog).  We were shooting without a tripod, and so it was difficult to capture just how thin was the line of the Moon for a long time.  It was not a clear crescent, with mountains of the Moon providing jagged lines that glistened like a crystal glass necklace.  Longer exposures revealed the comet to other observers in other places, but not to us.  Perched as we were right on the edge of the Austin Chalk Escarpment, we were joined by a dozen or so others who hoped to see the comet, or who were just putting their BMX bikes away.

A more detailed, and grainy, shot of the Moon (with no comet):

New Moon over Grand Prairie Texas, looking for Comet Pan-STARRS, photo by Ed Darrell

Eventually the Moon stated its presence, but still no Comet Pan-STARRS, on March 12, 2013. Looking west over Grand Prairie, Texas.  (Yeah, probably would have been a much better photo if not handheld.)

Here’s a photo of where it was supposed to be last night, the evening of March 13.

Moon over Grand Prairie, no comet, 3-13-2013

On March 13, Comet Pan -STARRS rode directly underneath the Moon; it’s invisible in this longer exposure, though you can see the streaking lights of a jetliner flying out of DFW International Airport under the Moon.

It’s like waiting for Godot.  Waiting for Comet Godot.

Quoting from SamuellBeckett.net:
ESTRAGON: 
People are bloody ignorant apes.  He rises painfully, goes limping to extreme left, halts, gazes into distance off with his hand screening his eyes, turns, goes to extreme right, gazes into distance. Vladimir watches him, then goes and picks up the boot, peers into it, drops it hastily.
VLADIMIR:  Pah!He spits. Estragon moves to center, halts with his back to auditorium.
ESTRAGON:  Charming spot. (He turns, advances to front, halts facing auditorium.)
Inspiring prospects. (He turns to Vladimir.)
Let’s go.
VLADIMIR:  We can’t.
ESTRAGON:  Why not?
VLADIMIR:  We’re waiting for Godot.
ESTRAGON:  (despairingly). Ah! (Pause.) You’re sure it was here?
VLADIMIR:  What?
ESTRAGON:  That we were to wait.
VLADIMIR:  He said by the tree. (They look at the tree.) Do you see any others?
ESTRAGON:  What is it?
VLADIMIR:  I don’t know. A willow.
ESTRAGON:  Where are the leaves?
VLADIMIR:

It must be dead.

 

More:

Brian Klimowski's photo of Comet Pan-STARRS, March 12, 2013

Other photographers found Comet Pan-STARRS. This photo comes via SpaceWeather.com. ” Brian Klimowski sends this picture from the countryside near Flagstaff, Arizona . . . ‘Beautiful show this evening!’ says Klimowski. ‘I took the photo from an altitude of about 9500 feet in the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff. A 1-second exposure with my Canon digital camera easily revealed the comet.'” Photo details: Canon 7D, 125 mm, 1s @ F/5.6. ISO 1250

 

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