Wednesday, September 8, 2010
In December, 1973, when the Comet Kohoutek was visible in our sky, Gerald was excited. He even bought tee-shirts with "Kohoutek" emblazoned with rhinestones portraying a comet! I had given him a telescope for his birthday the previous June. Gerald had read that Kohoutek would be at its perihelion on December 28 in the early morning hours. He was on Christmas shutdown and I had taken the week as vacation. He took the top off the Scout and loaded the telescope and a chair into the back of the Scout and we drove into the country where the view would be better. I was dressed for bed in my nightgown and robe, but I cradled the telescope to keep it steady, as we drove outside of town. I looked at the comet but soon lost interest and I fell asleep on the floor of the Scout. I had taken blankets and a pillow and although it was a rather mild winter night, it was still cold. Gerald was sitting, glued to the telescope, and I awoke to the sight of flashing lights. Startled, I bolted upright only to see a Sheriff's deputy approaching the Scout. He asked what we were doing and Gerald invited him to look at the comet. The deputy hopped into the Scout and looked at the comet. He commented about my bedclothes and said that he thought we were a couple "making out". I asked, "In a flannel nightgown?" He laughed and said that we were crazy!
Kohoutek was known as the "comet of the century", but overall, Kohoutek's display was considered a "cosmic letdown" which led to its nickname "Comet Watergate". Because Kohoutek was to most, a disappointment, its name became synonymous with duds! Even though it failed to brighten to expected levels, it was still a delight to Gerald as it was the first comet he saw after receiving his telescope.
We have a collection of Kohoutek memorabilia. Along with the tee-shirts, we have several albums by different artists celebrating the comet. On Journey's debut album was an instrumental entitled "Kohoutek"; On R.E.M.'s album "Fables Of The Reconstruction" was their tribute "Kohoutek"; Yahowha 13's first album was called "Kohoutek"; Argent's album "Nexus" had three songs inspired by Kohoutek: "The Coming Of Kohoutek", "Once Around The Sun" and "Infinite Wanderer"; Bill Carroll had an album entitled "Kohoutek"; on the English group 808 State's album "Don Solaris" is an instrumental titled "Kohoutek"; a bootleg album by Pink Floyd is entitled "In Celebration Of The Comet--The Coming of Kohoutek" and finally, Burl Ives recorded a single called "The Trail Of The Comet Kohoutek".