Category Archives: remember

Seasonal Thoughts

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Autmn

This has nothing to do with space, but something to do with resurrection.

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Talking to You

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Ode to the Moon of the Sea

Image

But when
I reach
the sea,
you seem
a different moon,
white,
moist
and cool
as
a
filly
frolicking
in the dew,
youthful
as a pearl
diaphanous
as a siren’s
brow.

Moon
of the sea,
each night
you wash yourself
and wake
misted
by eternal dawn,
wed ceaselessly
with sky, with air,
with sea wind,
gradually
expelled
by the rhythmic
contractions of the tide,
clean as
fingernails
in ocean
brine.

Excerpt from “Ode to the Moon of the Sea” by Pablo Neruda found in:
Neruda, Pablo. Selected Odes of Pablo Neruda. Trans. Margaret Sayers Peden. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990.

Photo from the Chicago Astronomer Full Moon Rise Party at the Adler Planetarium. 08/01/2012.

***
This summer has been overflowing with astronomical inspiration!  From the Transit of Venus to the landing of the Curiosity Rover (and a few moon and star parties thrown in for good measure!), I have experienced more celestial wonders than I would have thought possible in such a large city.  While I am not looking forward to the cold months ahead, the extra darkness and clear skies of winter will hopefully facilitate even more encounters with the empyrean kind.

In addition to all of the exciting space events of the present, this summer was also a commemoration of the men and women who helped pioneer space exploration off the ground.  The world also said goodbye to both the first American woman in space, Sally Ride, and the first man to set foot on the Moon, Neil Armstrong.  One of the most successful space missions of all time, the Voyager spacecraft, celebrated its 35th anniversary as the still operational explorers prepared to leave our solar system.  

In the last week of summer, I return to this tiny corner of the web with a full heart and expectant mind.  

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For the Conjunction of Two Planets

Jupiter and Venus Conjunction. Image credit Kevin Jung.

We smile at astrological hopes
And leave the sky to expert men
Who do not reckon horoscopes
But painfully extend their ken
In mathematical debate
With slide and photographic plate.

And yet, protest it if we will,
Some corner of the mind retains
The medieval man, who still
Keeps watch upon those starry skeins
And drives us out of doors at night
To gaze at anagrams of light.

Whatever register or law
Is drawn in digits for these two,
Venus and Jupiter keep their awe,
Wardens of brilliance, as they do
Their dual circuit of the west-
The brightest planet and her guest.

Is any light so proudly thrust
From darkness on our lifted faces
A sign of something we can trust,
Or is it that in starry places
We see things we long to see
In fiery iconography?

Rich, Adrienne. Collected Early Poems, 1950-1970. New York: Norton, 1993. p. 54.

Photo found on this great site.

***

The conjunction of Jupiter and Venus was the brightest it has been in the Chicago sky for years.  The viewing of such a beautiful astronomical event in my adopted metropolis was an almost sacred experience for me, transporting me from my urban prison to the wild, rolling hills locked deep in my memory.

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The Epic Stars

Blaeu, Willem, Map 1, one set of three gores from Sphaera Stellifera.


The heroic stars spending themselves,
Coining their very flesh into bullets for the lost battle,
They must burn out at length like used candles;
And Mother Night will weep in her triumph, taking home her heroes.
There is the stuff for an epic poem,
This magnificent raid at the heart of darkness, this lost battle-
We don’t know enough, we’ll never know.
Oh happy Homer, taking the stars and the gods for granted.

Jeffers, Robinson. The Beginning and the End. New York: Random House, 1963. p. 24.

Image found in
Warner, Deborah J. The Sky Explored: Celestial Cartography 1500-1800. New York: Alan R Liss, Inc., 1979. p.29.

Blaeu celestial globe here

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Falling Stars

Do you still remember: falling stars, how
they leapt slantwise through the sky
like horses over suddenly held-out hurdles
of our wishes- had we so many?-
for stars, innumerable, leapt everywhere;
almost every look upward was wedded
to the swift hazard of their play,
and the heart felt itself a single thing
beneath that vast disintegration of their brilliance-
and was whole, as though it would survive them!

Rilke, Rainer Maria. Uncollected Poems. Trans. Edward Snow. New York: North Point Press, 1999. pp 184-185.

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