August 23, 2020, in Science Fiction

“Glory Whales”
by Marc A. Criley

Blazing twenty kilometers to port was our interstellar visitor, comet 172I/DSCS, churning slow-motion glitter. Ripples, curlicues, backlit streamers of gray and silver rain. Crepuscular cosmic rays and the nebulous electric blue glow of the ion tail.

Deep Space Comet Survey astronomers had spotted it crossing Jupiter’s orbit,  The comet’s near-miss of Mars had altered its course. It would end its long journey between the stars with a dive into the Sun.

We’d been asked to pull up alongside for some data collection and to grab a sample if we thought it safe. As if we would miss a chance to greet this rare and temporary visitor to our solar system.  And of course it would be safe.