Why is watching an airplane streak across the sky just not the same as watching the passing of a comet? They look passably similar after all.

Is it that planes are so commonplace? Knowing that, say, the Comet Halley only drops in once every 76 years compared to the 1,285 planes that fly in and out of Frankfurt everyday?

Is it that planes are manmade, while the comet is a naturally occurring celestial being that takes so long to orbit the earth, one could live an entire life without ever seeing it yet knowing it will inevitably pass by…and so there is some sense of divine wonderment attached to it?

But it’s probably not right to say that planes don’t have the same magnetism – what about skywriting?

“The sound of an aeroplane bored ominously into the ears of the crowd. There it was coming over the trees, letting out white smoke from behind, which curled and twisted, actually writing something! making letters in the sky!” 

And perhaps it’s just me that prefers the comet to the carrier. After all, passenger planes, like apartment blocks and distant city landscapes, carry with them within a single frame hundreds of individual stories and histories…but all with one single place to be. Now there’s some room for imagination, as Anne Shirley would say.