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Comet C/2023 E3

my short quest on seeing the elusive comet

By Jennisea RedfieldPublished 3 months ago Updated 2 months ago 4 min read
Comet C/2023 E3
Photo by Lukáš Vaňátko on Unsplash

For an entire month, maybe even more, I sat or stood on my porch every single night. The pale-yellow light that resonated from the porch remained off, cutting down on the lustrous pollution that masks the brilliance of the stars. Sometimes this works, but not always. Pity. I love the stars.

I stood on my porch, barefoot most nights, using my eyes to search and scan what little of the stars that I could see. Due to the winter weather, most nights were steel biting cold, the dropped temperature normally turning my feet red and bitingly numb. But I wasn’t looking for planets, or satellites.

I was looking for a comet. C/2023 E3. The green comet. The comet that only appears every 50,000 years.

50,000 years ago, there were dire wolves, mastodons, scimitar cats and Neanderthals. And the comet, known as the Neanderthal comet, made its first documented loop to the primeval state of Earth. Our ancestral mothers saw the green ball of vapor and ice and offered the celestial beauty their bountiful wealth of furs, ivories, stones and words. Our ancestral grandmothers spoke songs and words, levelling the comet with our ancient gods and goddesses. Our grandfathers made scrimshaw, and paintings to tell their story of the comet, its blazing promenade, the way it lit up along the sled trails of the milky way and illuminated the predatory eyes of dire wolves and scimitar cats. And then it flitted away, never to be seen again by ancient optics.

It’s now my turn.

Comet c/ 2022 E23 is said to be at its brightest just at the cusp of 2 A.M. I normally use the excuse of letting Loona outside to relieve her walnut sized bladder, while standing in the dark.

I saw the caterpillar movements of Space-X, the blinking twinkles of roaming satellites. I saw winter travelling bats flit about like tiny fighter jets. I heard the chilling cry of an owl, sending me into a mild state of panic.

I saw Mars and Venus, our sister planets. I saw Castor and Pollux of the Gemini constellation. I saw Polaris and the Seven Sisters. I even saw Orion with Betelgeuse and Bellatrix on his shoulders.

However, some nights, the reflection of the moon blurs out the freckling abyss with phantom light-

Or the heavenly specks of light shielded by a quilt made of dense clouds.

During the day, I tend to the small bout of chores around my house, taking breaks to either do what little schoolwork I have, or to investigate what I can learn and know about the Neanderthal Comet. My son, who is at daycare, learns his needed social skills to be a functioning child when he gets old enough for public school. My daughter attends her high school, learning her place in the social pecking order.

When night hits again, the search goes on. Tonight, my son joins me. Normally he is apprehensive and shy of the night sky and the lack of light.

“It’s dark.” he states, standing close to my side as I switch off the pale-yellow light that illuminates the porch. It was cold tonight.

“It’s okay. It’s a good dark.” I whisper back.

“Good dark?” he asked.

“Good dark.” Both us then step off the porch and look up. And I hear him gasp.

“Wow....” he whispers, in awe as he saw his first shooting star.

“That right there, just next to the mountain. That's Polaris and the Great Bear. THe pretty red one right there? That’s Mars. The Bright one is Venus.” I label and point out the planets, stars and whisper stories about how they came there.

“Mama? What’s that?” my son points at. And I smile.

“That right the Neanderthal Comet.” And we watched as the brilliant icy ball stands out in a pale turquoise, a soft green that instantly relaxes your mind. Its tail trails off like a wedding veil that seems to stretch for miles. Logically, I know its traveling through the spacious void at thousands of miles fast. But tonight, it looks so slow, like a snail creeping over glittering velvet.

“Mama. I’m cold.” my son whispers. I smile, happy that I was able to share this with him.

“Okay, let’s go inside and go to bed.” I then pick him, grunting slightly as he now is starting to weigh over 40 pounds of cherubic fat and youthful muscle. We went inside, his milk sweet breath warm against my cold face.

Once he is snuggled warmly in his bed, I move to lay down in mine.


“What is it?”

“Can we see the comet tomowwow?” he asked, mispronouncing his R’s.

“No. Tomorrow it will be gone, too far to see. And it won't be back, not even when you’re grown.” I whisper. And tonight, I tell him the stories I heard about the great green comet. I then tell him stories I assumed our grandmothers told their daughters, who then told their sons, who then mapped the night sky, waiting their turn for the beauty of the comet.

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