Well, we did finally get to see comet Holmes through the telescope. The small, bright, fuzzy spot in the sky under Perseus turned into a large, bright, fuzzy spot in telescope.
I knew the view wouldn’t be dramatic, but I really enjoyed it and was surprised by the image in some ways, even after seeing so many pictures. But I was really afraid that the boys would be disappointed, expecting something more along the lines of a digitally enhanced Hollywood comet. Thankfully, they were not, and they seemed to enjoy it, as well. Everyone got a look, and we had the chance to talk more about how the telescope works and how the sky is always in motion.
At some point, one of the kiddos said, “Dad, what is that?” while pointing straight at the Pleiades. We then talked about the “Seven Sisters” and aimed our telescope anew so that they could see some of the fainter stars in the Pleiades. I told them that the Pleiades formed one of a handful of constellations mentioned specifically in the Bible, along with Orion and the “Great Bear with its cubs” (Job 9:9, Job 38:31, Amos 5:8). Actually, poking around the Pleiades probably took up more time for us than looking at the comet (no offense, Holmes). They are a pretty sight.
After talking a bit about the hymn we sing at church based on Psalm 19 (“The heavens God’s glory do declare…”), we went back inside and looked up the Wikipedia entry on the Pleiades. The pictures there were much better than what we were able to see in the telescope, and the article had the answers to some of the questions they asked outside which Dad couldn’t answer (I wish I could say that my “I don’t knows” surprised them, but they figured out Dad doesn’t know everything a long time ago…). Then Boy #2 wanted Dad to read the verses in the Bible that mentioned the Pleiades, and Dad was happy to oblige.
The one negative thought I had that night — in the midst of what was generally a wonderfully pleasant evening — was that I couldn’t believe my kids were only now noticing the Pleiades. It made me feel like I don’t take them outside enough.
“What’s that big, bright circle up there, Daddy?”
“Why, that’s the moon, son. It comes out at night…”
Well, hopefully I made up a little for that evening. It was a Sabbath night well spent. To wrap up, I leave you with one of the Wikipedia pictures, courtesy of NASA/ESA/AURA/Caltech: