I’ve been hearing — and reading — about comet PANSTARRS on Twitter for days now, so Chad and I decided to pull out the telescope after dinner to see if we could spot it. It was supposed to have the easy-to-use marker of the sliver moon, which it would be right below. However, when we got outside we couldn’t see the moon anywhere. We chalked it up to either light pollution or faint, otherwise unnoticeable cloud cover and decided just to look at the stars. Even with light pollution from three nearby large towns, we can still see some nice, bright ones, like those in Orion and the Big Dipper.
After awhile, I noticed that one particularly bright star was moving. Fast. So we trained the telescope on it, and it was amazing. I can’t say for sure it was the comet — we’re still new to astronomy, after all — but where all the stars we’ve looked at were round, this was more elliptical, or irregular, with this kind of pulsing halo around it. I’ve gotten pretty good at dialing stars into focus, but this thing just kept pulsing and shifting. Chad saw the same thing. Could we have spotted the comet?
As we were excitedly debating it, we turned around to see some deer wander into our next-door neighbors’ yard. Then more deer. And more. Nine, possibly ten in all! Chad handed me the binoculars, and when I looked at them through it, I could see that all of them, every one of the deer, was looking right at me.
And then they ran away.
It was breathtaking, both the comet and the deer. One of the most amazing things I’ve seen in my life.