Way down South, where looking up Is looking upside down – The Man in the Moon is wrongside-right, And the Plough ain’t even in town. The Dog Star sails above the Pup, Throughout the Summer sky, With Betelgeuse kept low at night And Rigel kicking high. To Northern eyes, where looking up Is looking strange and stark – The Milky Way us far too bright, The pole is far too dark.
Alfie O’Ryan is quite the star, With a name as bloated as he – Some call him Beetle Juice, Some call him Battle Geese, Lord knows what he was to Ptolemy.
And then there’s Wry Gull and Puppies in Booties, If I eat a careener, will it turn out Serious ? And do we get to call these, The Piss Keys and the Higher-D’s ? We need an Older Baron to make it less mysterious.
Well, how should they be pronounced ? We have to teach ourselves by the ounce – We read them in textbooks with no overseer, Just Awful Yuccas and Cassy O’Pier.
As I’ve detailed elsewhere, Betelgeuse was pretty much dead to Ptolemy. I have heard it suggested that he didn’t care for the fixed stars because they were, well, fixed – unlike his real passion, the wandering planets.
The Moon is locked into the Earth, She only shows her best side, Keeps her dark side turned away. But the Earth has nothing to hide, Beneath her gaze, we spin on full display, For the Earth is not beholden to the Moon – Not yet, at least – And it won’t be soon, For the Earth is a massive beast. Yet the Moon is trying, trying, And will yet succeed, one day – But not before the seas have boiled away.
Now take a smaller star instead, Like Proxima Centauri – Very dwarven, very red, But orbiting we see Proxima b A planet similar to Earth, A tenth as close as Mercury With liquid water on its bed – Except, to be precise, More likely steam and ice, With one side always baking dry, The other frozen, dark and dead You see, when this close in, it does not spin – But wait, that’s wrong, We ought to say it has a year-long day. (About eleven Earth-days long).
Now let’s imagine orbiting round Rigel, A super-blue, so hot and bright, And though a massive mass, his heat and light Outpace his gravity – So if we were to move the Earth to where We’ll get a decent share to keep it all anthropical, To keep the Arctic icy and to keep the tropics tropical, We wouldn’t be so deep within his spacetime cavity. You see – we’d need to be about, say, twelve-times-Neptune out – That’s over two light-days. Our seasons would last centuries, our year now thirteen-hundred years And all to catch enough, but strictly not too many rays. And actually, the daylight would be rather dim, I hear – As most of Rigel’s output, it appears, Is in the UV band, And not the visible so much, not that far out. So even though it’s warm, no doubt, The photosynthesis of plants now won’t get such a shout, While all of us get super-tanned. His stellar wind is vicious, but I think we could withstand From this far off – but satellites may end in tears. But at least we get to spin on our own gears, So that’s a win. Rigel hasn’t got a hope to lock us in !
As I understand it, a planet wouldn’t naturally form so far out from its parent star, as there’s not enough material. Of course, it could be a captured rogue planet or ripped from another star.
Also, I saw Rigel’s name written bown in the astronomy books of my youth long before I hard anyone ever pronounce it, so gor me Rigel will always have a hard G.
Another eclipse I’ve missed, I’ve missed, Just like the others that passed me by – Ev’ry couple of years there’s one In Vladivostok or Uruguay – But they never shine round here these days, They never shine round here…
I s’pose I could go chase them, chase them, To the Hindu Cush or the Cape But all that cost, and what if it’s cloudy ?, For two-odd minutes of tickertape… And they never dance round here these days, They never dance round here…
Stand in a spot a long time, long time, Eventually, an eclipse will call – But nothing can ever be worth such a wait, In longer than empires rise and fall. And they won’t rise up round here these days, They never rise round here.
Another eclipse I’ve missed, I’ve missed, And maybe I’ll miss them ev’ry one – But life goes on regardless if The moon may cross before the sun And the sun still shines round here these days, The sun still shines round here.
The books call this an igneous province, As if a country of lava – They also call these rocks an intrusion, So more of an empire, rather. But due to the terraces up the plateau, They mostly call them traps – As if they’re prisoners to their nature, Till their lands collapse. Rocks push up from underneath By stealth or by explosion, To reinforce the battle With the forces of erosion. The books call these the flood basalts That roll across the shield Unstoppable, a stony horde That sweep the battlefield.
I’ll gladly say I love you, If you don’t ask if I love you More than all the stars above – For what mere girl can stir up so much love To turn the sternest head ? Nuclear fusion, supernovas, black hole cuties, Diamond-cored and shifted ruby-red – It isn’t fair that I compare you To the very heavens’ beauties Turning all the inky velvet pearled – For they are truly gems from out this world.
I’ll gladly say I love you, If you don’t ask if I love you Till the saline seas run dry. For what mere girl can draw out such a sigh To spring the harshest heart ? Continents crashing, mountains leaping, plates migrating, Magma-cored and slowly wrenched apart – It isn’t fair that I compare you To the very land creating Granite, quartz, and crystals, forged and furled – For they are truly gems within this world.
I’ll gladly say I love you, If you don’t ask if I love you Even more than life itself – For what mere girl can equal so much wealth To spark the jadest eye ? Bejewellèd beetles, primrose blossom, eagles soaring, Helix-cored and left to multiply – It isn’t fair that I compare you To the fruits of blind exploring – Trunks and scales and proteins tightly curled – For they are truly gems upon this world
I’ll gladly say I love you If you don’t ask if I love you Like a this or that or other-hand – For what mere boy can try to understand What all this wonder means ? Ricochet rapture, all things quickly, nothing mildly, Empty-cored and barely out my teens – It isn’t fair that you compare me To a firefly flitting wildly Through the endless lures in which I’m swirled – I’ve never known such gems for all the world.
I hear they’ve found another Super-Earth Around another star – A bit bigger round the waist, But still as rocky as we are. The gravity is stronger, So the mountains are all lower, But there’s no reason at all That some life is not a goer. Maybe life much smarter Than the likes us down here, But life that never gets to cross The endless void, I fear. They, like us, can only run so fast, Can only reach so high, But they must drag a greater ball-and-chain Before they fly.
You see, that could have been us, Had the Earth and Mars collided In the days before the days Before the proto-cells divided. Life could still arise From the planetary ash, But could never hope to reach the Moon (If the Moon survived the crash). Rockets can only burn so bright, But the g-force rises, ev’ry thrust – When you have to ride a nuke to fly, You’ll orbit as a smear of dust. That’s the price of gravity’s embrace – We’re hers for keeping – And she’s a hard mistress, gravity, Possessive and unsleeping.
Except, of course, our planet is Just small enough to jump and fly, (Not that we have, we grounded individuals Trapped beneath the sky). But others of our species have, And probes have sent our eyes to dance With Jupiter and Mercury – And all because we had the chance. And when the Sun is old and red, Then we’ll be gone to boldly go – Yet till that day, we only get to dream Of all we’ll never know. We may be stranded in the well, But we are safe and warm, all told – I hear it’s very beautiful up there, But oh, so cold…