There was no better free show in all of 1996-97. After the disappointment of the 1986 almost-invisible-even-with-a-telescope Halley's Comet, there was serious excitement in being able to go outside on a clear night and see a real comet with the naked eye.

On some nights, after the local TV weatherman had said it was a good night to go comet-watching, most of the neighborhood could be found outside, ooh-ing and aah-ing over the light show. That many people, old and young, all looking up at the night sky, marveling at a cosmic event that wouldn't happen again for 4,000 years, watching stars that they hadn't looked at in ages ... chills, baby, up and down my spine...