7 fun things to do while waiting for the world to end

Mayan 7-day weather forecast for the current week

First, brew a cup of tea or coffee, sit back at the computer and spend a few minutes at the 2012hoax.org website for edification and entertainment. The site’s creators have tried to address every cooked-up doomsday scenario out there.

Second, why not use the time to finish wrapping those Christmas presents? I usually wait till the last minute and do a schlock job folding and taping. Don’t let this happen to you. And if you’re looking for a last-minute gift, give your worried friend the hope of another tomorrow with a 2013 calendar.

Photo: Bob King

Third, take a really long walk or engage in some other form of exercise. Do this in advance of all the overeating that’s inevitable around Christmastime and you might break even.

Fourth, if you do plan a walk and your sky is clear, do so under the light of the quarter moon. Tonight it’s high in the south in the constellation Pisces and sure to provide good light for shadows. If it’s snowy where you live, the moonlight will be even more intense.

Orion’s Belt is filled with stellar riches. Photo: Bob King

Fifth, look at Orion’s Belt in a pair of binoculars. I know you’ve seen this stellar trio dozens of times, but the region surrounding them is saturated with stars just below the naked eye limit.

Point your binoculars that way for an awesome view before the moon gets too bright. Several nights ago under a very dark sky, I  could see the bling with my naked eye, palpitating at the limit of vision.

Comet C/2012 K5 (LINEAR) on Dec. 15 from Austria taken with an 8-inch scope. Smaller scopes will show a faint fuzzy streak, while 8-inch and larger instruments will give fine views of the tail. Detailed finder map below. Credit: Michael Jaeger

Sixth, if you own a telescope 6-inches or larger, a beautiful comet is passing atop the Bowl of the Big Dipper this week. Comet C/2012 K5 LINEAR shines at around 9th magnitude with a teeny-tiny head and a streamlined tail pointing northwest. I saw it in my scope the night of the Geminid shower. Absolutely beautiful. The larger your telescope, the better the view.

Seventh, call your mom or dad or someone in your family you haven’t talked to in a while and get back in touch.

Comet K5 LINEAR flies skirts the Big Dipper Bowl the next few nights. I’ve marked the comet’s position every 12 hours at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. CST. The morning hours from 5-6 a.m. are best because the sky is moonless and comet high in the northern sky. Right-click image, save and print out a copy to use at the telescope. Stars to mag. 9.2. Created with Chris Marriott’s SkyMap software