Friday, March 03, 2006

A slip of comet, scarce worth discovery

Still looking each morning before dawn for that blur of light I can barely see in my spotting scope. Comet Pojmanski. Is that a hint of tail I'm seeing, or am I only imagining it? No point in dragging my wife out of bed. She would roll her eyes and wonder why I bother. Well, it's not the comet; I've seen dozens of these faint visitors. It's the spine-tingling experience of standing on the terrace in my skivvies while a black star-spangled sky becomes a tropic dawn. And it's not just the sensual rush. There's an intellectual dimension too, as the mind tries to grasp the three-dimensionality of space, Comet Pojmanski tracing its huge arc around the Sun, now climbing back into Hopkins' "cavernous dark," chasing its tail. I like to think there is a touch of the poet in all of us, and I recall something Samuel Johnson wrote: "To a poet, nothing can be useless. Whatever is beautiful, and whatever is dreadful, must be familiar to his imagination: he must be conversant with all that is awfully vast or elegantly little."