Science: Backyard Astronomer

Early in the evening, as he steered his home-made telescope methodically across the western sky, Clarence Friend noted a bright streak disrupting the usually placid constellation Corona. Friend knew that he had spotted a comet, one of the mavericks of the solar system. He also knew what to do about it. Quickly figuring the ascension, declination and magnitude of his find, he rushed the news by time-dated telegram to Harvard University Observatory, the astronomic clearing house for the western hemisphere. The observation was promptly confirmed.

Since that evening last November, Friend's comet—of the seventh magnitude, just beyond naked eye visibility—has followed its...

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