Kohoutek photo-Univ. of Arizona
As a young boy I had always been fascinated with the knowledge that the famous Halley's comet would return during my lifetime, so you can imagine the excitement of a budding young backyard astronomer such as myself when all the big hullabaloo about the newly discovered Kohoutek comet was on television in 1973. It was played up as the "Comet of the Century", and as you will find in the poem, it was supposed to be quite the thing, eclipsing even Halley's comet. You can imagine my disappointment when I never even saw it as promised by all the "experts". And so, I wrote this "Ode to Comet Kohoutek", and created a pen and ink drawing of the comet. At the end of the poem is a digital recreation of that original drawing.
Ode to Comet Kohoutek
by Fred Hurteau
| It looked extremely
odd when he first saw it there that day.
To be a star it shouldn't move across the sky that way.
And so, when through repeated checks it always did the same
he cried "I've found a comet". And it soon would bring him fame.
Kohoutek, the astronomer, knew he had done his best.
He was so proud he almost popped the buttons on his vest.
He made his calculations every evening as he sat
beneath his telescope still checking where his comet's at.
When all his figuring was done, to his colleagues he spoke,
"See, I have found a comet, please believe me, it's no joke.
Here are my calculations, you can see my comet bright.
Get out your telescopes and check it out first thing tonight."
Each one to his observatory did return that day
To check out everything their friend, Kohoutek, had to say.
Many nights they checked and checked
while through their 'scopes they stared
and finally decided that Kohoutek had not erred.
There was a comet coming as Kohoutek first had said,
Five hundred million miles away it glowed so bright and red.
Yet still it was in outer space away so very far
That even through a telescope it looked just like a star.
And so, the news went out to all the people of the world,
a great and lovely comet towards the earth from deep space hurled.
The Comet of the Century they called it on the news.
The networks had astronomers on air to give their views.
T'would be a lovely sight so very bright each night to see,
that amateur astronomers all clapped their hands with glee.
A "one chance in a lifetime" deal this comet coming soon.
The experts said this comet would be bright as any moon.
The tail, they said, would take up almost one-sixth of the sky,
bright and sparkling in the night, t'would dazzle every eye.
And so the people waited so impatiently to see
the great Kohoutek Comet, as it had now come to be.
Binoculars and telescopes sold out at every store.
People bought them every one and still they wanted more.
The time was coming soon when they would look into the night
and see Kohoutek's comet shining there so big and bright.
Everyone was watching close, Kohoutek did the same.
He wanted to see for himself this comet with his name.
He and a lot of other folks shelled out a lot of dough
and hired an ocean liner for to deep sea sailing go.
The comet would be at its best at dusk far out at sea.
Oh, for just one glimpse of it now, but it was not to be.
Three days and nights of stormy seas and cloudy skies prevailed.
More than Kohoutek's great enthusiasm soon did pale.
For three long days the waves did toss the giant ship about
and neither did Kohoutek nor his comet dare come out.
Small was the disappointment compared with what was to come.
A bigger disappointment for Kohoutek than for some.
The comet came, the comet went, Kohoutek's comet bright,
but no one ever saw it, tell me how can that be right?
One explanation only, it must be without a doubt,
the fabulous Kohoutek's comet simply fizzled out.
web page/frameset and all original graphics contained herein
are copyrighted by Fred Hurteau and may not be copied or used
without written consent of the author.