Nova Scotia 11:43pm (3:43am GMT) Monday, July 9, 2063
Avid amateur astronomer Lindsey Adamson’s computer records her saying, “That’s odd.” She had just seen an image of bright speck in Lyra through her Celestron Vega 6 telescope, which she has feeding into her computer. She assumed it was an anomaly and called up the images from the feed four nights ago. Using her astronomy software, she superimposed the two images, and discovers the bright dot from this evening is in the same location as a much smaller dot on the Thursday night feed. From another file recorded two weeks ago, she finds nothing, even at extreme zoom and using all of the built in filters. What ever it is, it’s been there for at least four days, but wasn’t there two weeks ago.
“Open Astronet,” she instructs her computer, which instantly connects her to the global amateur astronomy network. She sends the new image to the network, and her voice trembles ever so slightly, “Has anyone else seen this?”
In response, untold hundreds of telescopes swing around to the coordinates embedded in Lindsey’s image. Within five minutes, astronet is buzzing with audio and text conversations, as well as new images linked in from across the globe, and even from the moon. The Anomalous Signals first discovered a decade ago had spurred an enormous interest from people who hoped to discover the aliens. So far, the Signals remained a mystery, but Astronet had become part of popular culture.
Anton Shugaev is an astronomer stationed at the Shelton Telescope Platform in the Schwarzschild crater on the far side of the moon. As part of the Galactic Observation Center still under construction, Shelton had just recently come online. The visible spectrum telescope at Shelton was one of the most powerful beyond Earth, and Shugaev’s job at the moment was to complete its calibration, a slow and boring necessity. Upon seeing the activity on Astronet, Shugaev instructed his computer to swing the telescope around to the coordinates of Adamson’s object.
“Wow,” he said to himself as the image resolved. His view was approximately a hundred times better than the images he was seeing on astronet. It was clearly an object of some sort, and it didn’t take long for Shugaev to realize that it wasn’t oblong; it had a tail.
“Astronet,” he said to open his connection to the feed. “Shugaev at Shelton. Uploading our view now. Call it… um,” he scrolled up the feed to find the Lindsey’s first post. “Yeah, call it Comet Adamson, X/2063 O1. At least for now.”
Astronet exploded with activity after that, as news spread of the discovery. Quite a few people sent direct congratulations to Lindsey Adamson, who sat in her upstairs bedroom of her parent’s house in Kingston, Nova Scotia. She had just turned twelve. In ten days, the world as she knew it would be gone forever.