I was just watching my downloaded video of Richard Miles’ presentation and, around 35 minutes in, I was surprised to hear Richard asking me a question, if I was watching the video…..! The question relates to Roy Panther’s comet discovery of Xmas Day 1980 and my activity that night. That was indeed the night that I first used my 14-inch AE reflector in Newtonian mode,
having acquired it a few weeks earlier. I had used it in Cassegrain mode prior to that and, just 2 evenings earlier, took a photo of the Mare Crisium which (somehow!) won the Lunar Section photographic competition 6 months later. But Xmas Day 1980 was the first time I used the 14-inch at f/5. It was the first ever night that I attempted sweeping for comets too (I continued for 4 years). I decided that I would start sweeping near epsilon Lyrae and so swung the telescope to that part of the sky, getting the star in the finder. However, being a big equatorial Newt on a high plinth, the eyepiece position, on a ladder, was too uncomfortable, and so I started elsewhere. Little did I know that at the same time Roy Panther was discovering his comet just a degree or two away! In fact, I did not hear about Roy’s discovery until a few days later when I bumped into my former Physics Teacher, Don Woodhouse, in W.H. Smiths in Bury St Edmunds. He told me that he had heard about it on the radio. I’d not seen Don for more than 4 years! It was only months later that it hit me that Roy had found his comet so close to where I had intended starting sweeping on Xmas Day, on my first ever comet sweep. It sent shivers up my spine…literally!
That is spooky enough, but there is another twist. While watching the video of Richard’s talk, as soon as he asked if I was listening we had a MASSIVE isolated lightning strike here (4.10pm) and the power went off.
Are the astronomy Gods trying to send me a message……….?