Does it seem to anyone else as though this has been a busy year for vaguely celestial news? First there was the asteroid a few weeks ago, which scientists reassured us was nothing to fear. They were, in fact, so busy reassuring us that they missed an approaching meteor, which startled even the astrologically astute Russians when it made its debut in the Siberian skies. Now, apparently, we’re going to have two comets visible with the naked eye: one next week and one later in the year. At this rate, I fully expect that soon aliens will land, buy a bucket of fried chicken, ask for directions, and then fly off, audibly bickering.
As we wait for the Antareans to swing by to get their extra-crispy fix, let’s turn back to this comet. For what I’m sure are very good, sensible reasons, it has been named Comet Pan-STARRS, which sounds like the name of a minor character from Star Trek. I intend to refer to it as “the comet.” It has been visible in the southern hemisphere for weeks – those scientists in Antarctica are so spoiled – but will be visible above the equator starting early next week, with peak brightness expected on March 12 and 13. “The comet” will be visible in the western sky around and after dusk, near the moon and low over the horizon.
You know what makes every single human experience, from looking at a comet to staring blankly into the night sky, better? A cocktail. You’ll be pleased to know there’s a comet cocktail; you may be less pleased to know that it commemorates a model of airplane, the de Havilland Comet, and that it involves an obscure South African liqueur. So my official comet-viewing recommendation is that you order your usual, but do it at a great New Orleans venue with outdoor seating.
Bacchanal, in the Ninth Ward, is a self-proclaimed “wine laboratory” with live music in its courtyard every night and a truly awe-inspiring menu. If you want to keep up some kind of generalized sky theme, stop by the Half Moon of famed beautiful neon sign, spacious patio, and glorious cheesesteaks. In Mid-City, try Bayou Beer Garden, which has a cozy front porch, massive rear deck, and truly amazing beer selection. So head out to one of these great night spots, settle in with some friends and a drink, and make a wish upon a Pan-STARRS.