StarWatch 893 for the week of September 29, 2013
I’ve often wondered what spurred me as a kid to look at the sky.
Perhaps it was the bright meteor that I saw on my way to a cub pack meeting or a teacher asking me if the cosmic information that she was conveying to her class was accurate. Then there was my poor father who I bombarded with a gazillion questions until one day he sighed and said, “Son, I just don’t know.” My response was, “Well, dad, give it your best shot.” And on it went…
My grandfather, Ewald Marcus (1893-1988), must have also played a role when he regaled me with vivid stories of his life, often using English and German words, interspersed within the same sentences as he spoke. As a student in the gymnasium, he was switched by his teacher when he conjectured about life on distant worlds in our galaxy. When he was 16 in 1910, he and a friend attended a May carnival in his hometown of Solingen-Wald, Germany.
As the light from late afternoon waned into twilight, and then to darkness, there low in the sky was the bright gossamer tail of Halley’s Comet, stretching, as he put it, “from horizon to horizon.” The sheer surprise of its appearance always brought awe and wonder to his voice whenever he told me the story.
As a German infantry soldier fighting on the Russian Front during WWI, my grandfather, at night when his chores were completed, would often go outside and sit on a chair in the snowpack, reading the German newspaper by just the light of the moon.
Opa died when I was 38, on my favorite day of the year, the summer solstice.