Aurora Australis

Okay, I admit it, the Moon’s far too large and too far South, but you get the idea

Aurora Australis

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.


don't be cross


“And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.”
                                                                                                                                            -Mark 15:33

An eclipse, right ?  It sounds so fine,
Especially when we learn of one,
A total seen in ’29.

Alas, we now can calculate
Down to the nearest minute
And the nearest mile its fate –

And this one was November,
And only nine-tenths partial there –
The dark was still a glowing ember.

The near-miss of ’29 –
The sky was dim, the air was chill,
But the Sun could still outshine.

An hour or so to noon,
And lasting just a hour or two,
So it was over far too soon.

And anyway, it just won’t do –
For Passover was always held
When the Moon was full, not new.

But what about a Lunar one ?
There’s one in April ’33,
At sunset too – job done !

Except…it’s partial, still quite bright,
And it didn’t last an hour in all,
And the only darkness comes with night.

Some suggest volcanic ash instead –
Though that would last for days, and stretch
Throughout the Eastern Med.

Maybe just a heavy storm ?
The legend doesn’t mention rain,
But thunderheads might fit the form.

And yet…is that the best that God
Can rustle up ?  A gloomy afternoon ?
His climax barely gets a nod.

We’re better off with desert dust –
When heavy in the atmosphere
It tints the Moon with rust.

But as the moon sails higher,
So the dust is less through which we peer –
So this one’s not a flyer.

And anyway, how come
There was no-one else wrote down the fact
Of what should strike them dumb ?

Three full hours of dark,
Before the sun had even set ?
Now that should leave its mark !

In our hearts, we know the score –
The sky did not go dark that day.
The world still turned, just as before.

Beyond Uranus

Devonian Constellations 1 by NocturnalSea

Beyond Uranus

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.


Finger Pointing Solward by Donato Giancola


Somewhere, in a parallel world,
My life has gone the way I’d wish –
Well lucky me, with a wink and swish,
At least I made it somewhere !

Out there in a parallel world,
My work fulfils, my dreams bear fruit,
My wife is smart, my kids are cute,
And I really made it somewhere !

Statistic’ly, I must be me
So he can be what I cannot –
Ah well, at least he got a shot,
No need to be a hater.

So have your perfect life on me,
And make the most of happenstance,
The luck is yours, so grab your chance –
Who knows what’s coming later ?

Somewhere, in a parallel world,
My life has gone the way I dread –
Oh woeful me, with a heavy tread
At the horrors yet to come there.

Out there in a parallel world
Another me, whose dreams are shot,
May sigh, with all the breath he’s got
“I hope I made it somewhere…”

Statistic’ly, I can’t be them,
Though this is sounding zero-sum…
But surely that’s just rule-of-thumb
To make sense of the mayhem ?

Ev’ry bell-curve has its ends,
And all the rest are inbetween,
Regressing to the boring mean
As prophesised by trends.

Yet, somewhere in a parallel world,
I know I must have beat the odds –
Well good for him, the jammy sod,
In a universe unfair.

But right here in this parallel world,
If reckon with some sweat and pluck
We all can work to change our luck,
And make this world a ‘somewhere’.

Tidal Locking

Tidal Locking

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.

How I Wonder What You Are


How I Wonder What You Are

I spy…well bless my eye,
A comet shot across the sky.
Is this a sign ?  For good or bad ?
Is this how God would toast the lad ?
I know what doubters say:
That comets happen anyway.

I spy…well how ’bout this:
Two planets close enough to kiss.
And sure they’re bright…but bright enough ?
Is that how God announces stuff ?
I know how doubters mock:
Conjunctions happen by the clock.

I spy…hang on…alright,
A supernova bursting bright !
Now those are rare, so what’s that worth ?
And yet…A death to hail a birth ?
I know how doubters sneer:
These things take months to disappear.

I spy…well here’s some more:
A nova ?  Or a meteor ?
I guess…but not the clearest clue –
Is this the best that God can do ?
I know the doubters’ line:
Why not just magic up the sign ?

I spy…I know, I know
A pagan myth that steals the show,
When ev’ry ancient hero born
Was heralded before the morn.
I know what doubters see:
That stars are stars, so let them be.



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.


DSC_5185 by Iwtt93


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.

First Love is Always the Hardest

The Young Astronomer by Olivier van Deuren

First Love is Always the Hardest

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.

The Sky’s the Limit

Photo by Pedro Figueras on

The Sky’s the Limit

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…