Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Sunday 1 December 2013

ISON is off

I have a confession to make.

Rather than watching with bated breath as Comet ISON grazed the sun on Thursday, I sloped off to the cinema. There are few films that would tempt me to sample the delights of our local flea-pit - it's always too loud and I hate the smell of popcorn - but 'Gravity' in 3D was one.

The Stigler also saw it this week and describes its impact with admirable clarity so I'll say only that the 3D immersive experience is breathtaking and that, given the large pizza I had eaten beforehand and the vertigo-inducing perspective, I was extremely glad it it wasn't 'The Perfect Storm'.

(As a short aside, the backs of the premium seats are so high that customers under 5'8" are advised to sit only in the front row of the section; it's an interesting business strategy that potentially inconveniences a significant proportion of the female cinema-going public (though, by way of compensation, the front row is definitely the best place to enjoy the bit where it looks as if George Clooney is about to land in your lap)).

However, it now appears that ISON, having attempted its solar flyby without my supervision, is now a fragmentary shadow of its former self. Oh dear! I feel somehow responsible; I should have looked after it properly.

Still, there is some more positive news; while ISON was frying and I was in the cinema, a bunch of astronomers at Mount Lemmon were busy documenting the passage of 2013 WH25, a truck-sized asteroid detected only a few hours before its closest approach to Earth, a mere 133,500 km away.

It's an indication of the number of the things spotted this year that there has been no squeak of news coverage, though I don't think that we should let the increased frequency affect the Tavern's practice of drinking to each and every one of them as it passes.

Though a day late - yesterday was far too busy for blogging - I invite you to raise a glass tonight in honour of 2013 WH25.



  1. Rather than watching with bated breath as Comet ISON grazed the sun on Thursday, I sloped off to the cinema.

    Stunned and chagrined - the old standards are slipping.

  2. JH, I'll be more careful with the next one - promise!


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