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Halley's Comet

January 08, 1986

Without doubt, the most vivid, lasting memory of my 81 years is of the night my parents and I stepped out of our sod house on the North Dakota homestead to see the great tail of Halley's comet streaking across the sky.

There were no other habitations around; no other lights; if there were stars I do not remember them; only a 360-degree horizon where the prairie met the sky, and that awesome celestial object overhead.

I was frightened, and held tightly to Papa's hand, for I had heard that if the Earth went through the tail of a comet, we would all burn up!

Recently I was privileged to return to the same prairie site. The sod house and the barn are long since gone, but there are still faint markings where the dugout and the well were, and some of the stones that had been used in the foundation of the barn.

In memory, I could walk out the door, turn right, go up a gentle slope, and find myself on the same spot where we stood that unforgettable night.

And of one thing I am sure--no one, in 1986, will be able to see with the naked eye, or perhaps even with a telescope, the comet in all its brilliance, as I saw it when I was 5 years old.



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