On Radio 4 this morning, discussion of Astronomy in childhood as a gateway to a career in science. In the course of which Paul Nurse and Brian Cox discussed two comets expected in 2013. One for March, expected to be bright and spectacular comet. The second for November which is promised to be as bright as the full moon.

Excuse my cynicism, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

I remember 1973.

After Apollo – not yet into my teens – I was hooked on Astronomy. The big excitement was the discovery of a new comet. A long period comet, it had last reached perihelion 150,000 years previous. Predicted to be the Comet of the Century.

Comet Kohoutek.

I searched the skies, but I never saw it. It was a naked eye object, though not from the light-polluted site where I was then living. No one saw all that much, and all round, it was considered a spectacular dud.

That apart, I have to agree with Paul Nurse and Brian Cox. It was the same for me. That early love for astronomy born from my father’s constant explanation of the night sky, kindled by Apollo, that started my love of science. That’s a love that continues to this day.

Advertisements