Where were you when the lights went out?

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Quickly after we heard the reports of the massive blackout in New York City and beyond, a few of my staff members proclaimed that terrorism was behind the event. I think not because terrorists have what you might call a flair for the dramatic, to put it mildly. They would have gone for a much, much larger section of the country, and found a time when it would really give people more reason to panic, such as night.

Also, had terrorists been behind this situation, some would have been involved in vandalism, looting, rioting and, of course, killing.

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All in all, it would seem that most everyone affected quickly accepted the situation and made the best of it. Don’t be surprised if there’s a report of numerous babies born nine months from last week.

While looking at the eerie pictures of the dark Manhattan skyline, I couldn’t help but think of how many people would have noticed the moon and stars. Ordinarily, the latter are practically impossible to see from Times Square.

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Speaking of all things celestial, mark your calendar for Wednesday, Aug. 27. That’s when Mars will be closest to the earth, reportedly since Sept. 12, 56617 B.C. Perhaps some of you old souls can channel that memory.

The next such close meeting is calculated for Aug. 28, 2287, so it’s now or never for we mere mortals.

Already a pair of binoculars shows a reddish star in the sky. A quality telescope will give you an increasingly better view. If anyone gets a photograph off of his or her telescopes or cameras, would you please submit a copy to us for publication? You won’t get money, but you will get a photo credit. Details on contacting me are listed below.

By the way, did anyone else notice a familiar name on page 3 of last Thursday’s edition? In the AP report about Mars, there was a quote from Myles Standish, an astronomer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Is that what our former city manager has been doing with his spare time? Not a bad choice.

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Finally, I realized soon after last week’s request for your reading list should have been made back in May. So, I’m extending that deadline so Sunday, Sept. 28. Please share with others and me what you’ve been reading recently. For example, I’m re-reading &uot;The Fellowship of the Ring&uot; for the umpteenth time.

For this or the photographs of Mars (jpegs for the pictures, by the way), e-mail me at stephen.cowles@suffolknewsherald.com, or regular mail to Stephen H. Cowles, Managing Editor, Suffolk, News-Herald, P.O. Box 1220, Suffolk, Va. 23439.

Stephen H. Cowles is the managing editor and a regular News-Herald columnist. He’s not afraid of the dark. Usually.