Discovery Stories: Tsutomu Seki, Comet Ikeya-Seki (1965 S1)


I am a sea-bred thing. When I feel happy, or lonely, I come down to the sea, for it fills my heart with deep emotion. That night I was dreaming of the sea. I was walking along the shore...

I do not know why, but on that night my wife woke me, very faithfully. Usually she discourages me from observing the stars. Exposing myself to the night dew, she thinks, cannot be very good for my health. Still, she woke me.

At four o'clock, I climbed up to the observing stage on the roof of a storehouse in my courtyard. The starry sky was very beautiful, transparent, as though swept clean by the typhoon two days before. Fine weather! I put my eye to the telescope.

At a quarter past four something refracted through my lenses--a queer, pale celestial body. My heart shook. I broke the stillness before the dawn: "A new comet!"

-- Tsutomo Seki, on the discovery of Comet Ikeya-Seki (1965 S1)
(as reported to National Geographic, from "Giant Comet Grazes the Sun" by Kenneth F. Weaver in the magazine's February 1966 issue. In the same article, co-discoverer Kaoru Ikeya described the comet at discovery as "shining like a street lamp on a misty night.")


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tonyhoffman@earthlink.net