Posts Tagged ‘Astronomy’



Credit: NASA, ESA, and L. Lamy (Observatory of Paris, CNRS, CNES)

Mysterious planet
Ever blue
Signs of sentience
For the few

So near and yet
So far apart
You hide from eyes
Your distant heart

Rolling onward
At a pace
Rings and moons
Adorn your space

The Sun for me
One shining bright
For you a star
In the night

Two together
Joined somehow
By the light
Here and now



1. Uranus auroras glimpsed from Earth
2. Hubble Spots Aurorae on the Planet Uranus

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Object Name: Arp 194 – Three interacting galaxies
Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Three spirals interacting
Creating worlds anew
Blue stars in congregations
Provide the future view

Of suns with moons and planets
Amidst the dusty lanes
And sentience abundant
That memories retains

I look in awe and wonder
Imagination wild
Upon this stilled resurgence
As one galactic child

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April’s arrived but then what’s in a name?
Nature is playing still its waiting game.
Springtime on tiptoes trips first here then there,
urging to action all those that might dare.

A planet moves so very far away
and eyes look up to see its rising suns
with scorching breath ignite another day.
Those of the night descend without delay.

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Power surge

A small asteroid will pass today between the Earth and the Moon’s orbit

An asteroid approaches Earth
While turning slowly on its way
A warning that no certainty
Is there for man’s longevity

The cosmos is a fickle place
No favours do its laws bestow
No guilt or innocence can sway
Its powers to act another day

With peace and turmoil side by side
Extremes as tidal floods and ebbs
Its currents twisting, churning, urged
By that which ever lies submerged

I cast my thoughts first here then there
In search of answers but none come
As to its motives, wiles and schemes
It seems we are but of its dreams

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Scientists are puzzled by the amount of water being detected on the Moon

Water, water, everywhere
Yes, even on the Moon
Perhaps the smallest asteroid
Could fill at least a spoon
It’s puzzling to some I hear
Those who are paid to know
Our Solar System’s history
How pale has turned their glow

Water, water, everywhere
Oft in disguises found
As vapour, ice, on many shores
Above and under ground
It seems the universe when young
Or very long ago
Had water in abundance too
As telescopes now show

Water, water, everywhere
So life in countless ways
Must fill the nooks and crannies and
Out on strange landscapes gaze
Earth gives us with its myriad forms
A clue to what lies there
Beyond imagination’s grasp
A universe to share

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Summer coat

Now half the house is painted
The rest stands worn and tired
And rain and wind aren’t helping
To do what is desired
Then while I sit a-thinking
About what must be done
I also am reminded
There can be too much sun

Cars in space

Assuming a speed of sixty miles per hour

If you drive straight upwards
Space is an hour away
The Moon is somewhat further
Six months a trip one-way
And then the planet Venus
The nearest one of those
Would take some sixty years to reach
Too long, I would propose

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A presenter of a television programme on the origin and structure of the Earth called the regions below its crust the “Earth Machine”, which set me thinking.

Beneath our feet, far down below,
lies one surrounded by a glow,
of iron made the experts say;
the “Earth Machine” turns on its way.

Created, born, who now would know?
A sentience, perhaps to grow,
a mother to her creatures all,
unrecognised behind the wall.

Life ever outside Thought’s domain,
untouched by those who would earn fame
dissecting to uncertainty
a world “out there” that none can see.

Infinite diversity,
an awesome, grand miscellany:
the planets, moons, and others there
within the Sun’s grasp and its glare.

I reach down deep and try to sense
the emanations rising hence
from one unfeeling, most presume,
emerged but from a different womb.

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Image taken by the Mars Global Surveyor of a (building sized) monolith found on Phobos, a moon of the planet Mars

A fantasy on exploration of the solar system

On Mercury we’ve lived through a Sun rise
We’ve trudged through the sand dunes of Mars
We’ve stumbled through firestorms on Venus
Strange landscapes here under the stars

We’ve dived into oceans of giants
Flown inside their shepherded rings
From Jupiter out to far Neptune
On moons we’ve seen wonderful things

We’ve found an abundance of life forms
Each world has a number for sure
Intelligence, sentience, prospers
Some clearly defined, some obscure

It seems there were older explorers
Who left traces that we have found
Their monuments standing like statues
And habitats built underground

We’ve seen man’s intentions to follow
To seek out his fortune in space
His self-centredness might soon be tested
If he meets the ones of our race

Interesting and detailed descriptions of Solar System objects can be found at nineplanets.org. A few details I found especially fascinating are reproduced below, with thanks.


Mercury has no moons.
This fact and the high eccentricity of Mercury’s orbit would produce very strange effects for an observer on Mercury’s surface. At some longitudes, the observer would see the Sun rise and then gradually increase in apparent size as it slowly moved toward the zenith. At that point, the Sun would stop, briefly reverse course, and stop again before resuming its path toward the horizon and decreasing in apparent size. All the while, the stars would be moving three times faster across the sky. Observers at other points on Mercury’s surface would see different but equally bizarre motions.


Venus has no moons.
Venus’ rotation is somewhat unusual in that it is both very slow (243 Earth days per Venus day, slightly longer than Venus’ year) and retrograde (clockwise – Jan). In addition, the periods of Venus’ rotation and of its orbit are synchronized such that it always presents the same face toward Earth when the two planets are at their closest approach. Whether this is a resonance effect (due to gravitational interaction – Jan) or merely a coincidence is not known.


Mars has two moons.
Mars has some of the most highly varied and interesting terrain of any of the terrestrial planets, some of it quite spectacular:

Olympus Mons: the largest mountain in the Solar System rising 24 km (78,000 ft.) above the surrounding plain. Its base is more than 500 km in diameter and is rimmed by a cliff 6 km (20,000 ft) high.
Tharsis: a huge bulge on the Martian surface that is about 4000 km across and 10 km high.
Valles Marineris: a system of canyons 4000 km long and from 2 to 7 km deep (top of page);
Hellas Planitia: an impact crater in the southern hemisphere over 6 km deep and 2000 km in diameter.


Jupiter has 63 known moons (as of Feb 2004).
The Great Red Spot (GRS) has been seen by Earthly observers for more than 300 years (its discovery is usually attributed to Cassini, or Robert Hooke in the 17th century). The GRS is an oval about 12,000 by 25,000 km, big enough to hold two Earths. Other smaller but similar spots have been known for decades. Infrared observations and the direction of its rotation indicate that the GRS is a high-pressure region whose cloud tops are significantly higher and colder than the surrounding regions. Similar structures have been seen on Saturn and Neptune. It is not known how such structures can persist for so long.


Saturn has 53 named moons (as of spring 2010).
Saturn’s rings are extraordinarily thin: though they’re 250,000 km or more in diameter, they’re less than one kilometre thick. Despite their impressive appearance, there’s really very little material in the rings — if the rings were compressed into a single body it would be no more than 100 km across. The ring particles seem to be composed primarily of water ice, but they may also include rocky particles with icy coatings.
Some of the moons, the so-called “shepherding satellites” are clearly important in keeping the rings in place.


Uranus has 27 named moons.
Most of the planets spin on an axis nearly perpendicular to the plane of the ecliptic (the Earth’s orbit – Jan) but Uranus’ axis is almost parallel to the ecliptic. At the time of Voyager 2’s passage, Uranus’ south pole was pointed almost directly at the Sun. This results in the odd fact that Uranus’ polar regions receive more energy input from the Sun than do its equatorial regions. Uranus is nevertheless hotter at its equator than at its poles. The mechanism underlying this is unknown.


Neptune has 13 known moons.
Neptune’s blue colour is largely the result of absorption of red light by methane in the atmosphere but there is some additional as-yet-unidentified constituent, which gives the clouds their rich blue tint.
Neptune has rapid winds confined to bands of latitude and large storms or vortices. Neptune’s winds are the fastest in the solar system, reaching 2000 km/hour – mechanism unknown.

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The joining


Image credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

I wanted to share with you this wonderful Hubble Telescope image of two interacting galaxies catalogued as Arp 273, UGC 1810
Further details can be found here on the Hubble site.

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Born on a whim or child of grand design?

A clear blue sky,
perhaps as on that first day long ago
after the fire of youth the Earth endured
since its birth in the gathering dust,
or from a joining – who can tell?
A wondrous world, child of delight,
that from some heaven fell.

A clear blue sky,
perhaps as on so many in that sea
hiding in starlight, secret in their ways.
Seen by eyes that now gaze as mine
or strangely different – who can tell?
A haven for life, shield to the storm,
where phantoms too may dwell.

A clear blue sky,
perhaps the breath of one that stands alone,
dream of some drowsy moment outside time
flaring into this prodigy;
or unintended – who can tell?
Superfluous gift, companion too,
locked in some binding spell.

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Image courtesy NASA
NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has unveiled a previously unseen structure centred in the Milky Way.

There at the centre, monstrous, lies
A form perhaps life in disguise
Its energies employed it seems
Somehow to keep the structure sound
And nurture life in those around

Thought for which all creation’s strange
Whose method is to rearrange
The fragments torn from Nature’s whole
Into new forms that it can see
Through eyes that watch from mystery

Man strives to know and understand
The world his senses draw inside
That rush, that overwhelming might
A singular complexity
Profound impartiality

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Inspired by the intriguing film “K-PAX”

A light year is a moment
Immersed within the glow
While travelling that vastness
To leave and say hello

The stars in every colour
The planets large and small
The satellites in orbit
Strange vistas that enthral

I see through eyes of wonder
I feel the calmness there
I hear the songs of angels
I climb each golden stair

I search with eyes of sorrow
I hope with hearts in pain
I pray to gods eternal
I laugh with those insane

Two galaxies are merging
See countless stars appear
Cocooned some still are yearning
To light the way to here.

The film based on the novel by Gene Brewer concerns a psychiatric patient who claims to be an alien from the planet K-PAX. During his treatment, the patient demonstrates an outlook on life that ultimately proves inspirational for his fellow patients and especially for his psychiatrist.

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Cold storage

A heart grows cold from disappointment’s hold
Its fingers squeeze what little still remains
Of warmth from that once brightly burning fire
Now glowing embers kindled by desire

Orbital manoeuvres

The Moon drifts slowly further from the Earth
As Earth’s spin slows to match that of her friend
Some day one side alone will face the Moon
Then distant, but companion to the end


A wind from sea drives back the winter cold
But brings a clinging moisture still to chill
Low scudding clouds merge with the misty air
And drizzle falls, the dampness now to share

For those interested in a more detailed 🙂 account of the evolution of the Earth-Moon system there are many sources. A good summary can be found here.

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Cosmic tsunami

From the Hubble Space Telescope site – October 9, 2004:

Four hundred years ago, October 9, 1604, sky watchers, including the famous astronomer Johannes Kepler, were startled by the sudden appearance of a "new star" in the western sky, rivalling the brilliance of the nearby planets


Kepler’s Supernova Remnant, SN 1604, V 843 Ophiuchi, G004.5+06.8 in Visible, X-Ray and Infrared Light.
Credit: NASA, ESA, R. Sankrit and W. Blair (Johns Hopkins University) 

Creatures on a strange world experience a supernova blast

Remnant of what once had been
a supernova glares unseen,
and through the surface waves they stare
up into that bright orange sky
transmitting now a woeful sigh.
It races on across the void
space burning at the speed of light,
dimensions folding in the night.
Clouds part as scarlet rain descends;
they reel and turn caught by the flame
and sink back down from whence they came.

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I float here in the womb of space
And look down on the wonder there
That would if not for one as I
Be beauty unseen passing by

An island home that man must share
With others for which he should care
A jewel against that velvet night
A sapphire lit by candlelight

One scarred and cratered follows on
As if a shield there to protect
Perhaps once also fair to see
A past still cloaked in mystery

Two locked in some divine embrace
Destined it seems in time to part
Will there be memories to share
When ended is this strange affair

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Spiral Galaxy NGC 4911 in the Coma Cluster – Hubble photo courtesy NASA

One of the multitude
Island of light
Child of creation
Seen in the night

Patterns of energy
Gathering there
Moving in silence
New forms to bear

Wombs of eternity
Singing their song
Chorus of heaven
Where all belong

Those lost in loneliness
Nurture their fears
Each one an island
Floating in tears

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Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Livio and the Hubble 20th Anniversary Team (STScI)

A spellbinding image from Hubble of a star forming region of the Carina Nebula. Jets of gas at top and center are the signposts of newly born stars. More information can be found on the site

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We are sitting under earthlight
in this crater on the Moon
with our helmets softly touching.
There on Earth it’s afternoon.

Does this old world somehow sense us
feel our presence on its soil?
Will it yield without condition
to man’s efforts that will spoil?


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Martian visitors

Spirit and Opportunity:
two rovers down on Mars
searching for life’s blood on that world
floating beneath the stars.

Five years beyond hope they’ve survived
dust storms and sand dunes deep.
Their wings draw sunlight in to power
those that must never sleep. (more…)

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You may not like what I write but I can write what I like – send patterns of thought’s products across the ether, whether of a naughty, hoity-toity, humble, solid, or drippingly fluidic nature.
I read yesterday that there were around six and a half million new posts published on WordPress in November – staggering isn’t it?
I’m imagining now my blog as a tree in a huge forest, situated not near the edge but not in the middle either. The posts might then be the leaves and the pages branches. As in a real forest no two trees are alike so it is possible somehow to keep one’s bearings. There are all sorts of trees: some tall with luxuriant growth and others wilting and devoid of new leaves but with the old ones still hanging on to catch the wandering eye.
Of course, come to think of it I could just take the b from the word blog and make it a log and WordPress would then simply be a huge (b)log jam. The moderators would then be like those loggers who keep the logs in some sort of order and moving. So, we have bloggers and (b)loggers.
One could get even more adventurous and compare WordPress to a galaxy like our Milky Way, with the administration in the central whatever-it-is and each blog a star. The pages would then be each star’s planets and the posts those smaller bodies further out from the star known in our neck of the woods as dwarf planets, some of which have yet to be discovered (written). Google’s Blogger, for example, would then be a nearby sister galaxy.
As an aside, in the real solar system the latter bodies inhabit the so called Kuiper Belt, after its Dutch discoverer, or to be completely fair we should include two others who earlier saw the light (however dimly) and then we have the Leonard-Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt.
Here is an artist’s impression of the structure of our solar system with the said belt – see the resemblance to a blog?


In the diagram above one sees the known objects in the Kuiper belt, derived from data from the Minor Planet Center. Objects in the main belt are colored green, while scattered objects are colored orange. The four outer planets are blue. Neptune’s few known Trojan asteroids are yellow, while Jupiter’s are pink. The scattered objects between the Sun and the Kuiper belt are known as centaurs. The scale is in astronomical units. The pronounced gap at the bottom is due to obscuration by the band of the Milky Way. (Thanks to Wikipedia and Author WilyD)

Is it just coincidence that we mimic Nature in so many ways? I don’t think so.
Anyway after this more serious stuff, which I hope you found at least a tiny bit interesting, let’s get back to basics.
So WordPress is huge, gigantically huge if one reduces its content to zeros and ones. In the forest analogy, one can search for some tree at the forest’s Information Center, where each tree has a name and a place. One can also just take a stroll amongst the trees, all of which have small plaques of information on the ground before them, perhaps dropping pebbles as one goes just to be on the safe side (the history recorded by the browser). Although there’s a huge map on the wall of the Center where every tree is marked, they don’t have any maps to take away :-). There are colored paths marked out on the map which follow certain categories (tags) of trees, so if one is looking for something special then one can follow one of these paths.
Fortunately, it’s always daylight in the forest so one can quite safely wander around during actual days and nights, and it’s only very occasionally closed for maintenance so if one does come at the wrong time one probably won’t have to wait long.
One does wonder a bit about the size of the forest getting out of hand. What if a fire started somewhere or some pranksters mess around with the plaques or steal the map or something?
I expect the owners have covered all eventualities as well as they can. Fortunately, one can make a clone of one’s own tree and replant it if necessary (via import and export).
Well, if the weather stays dry I might take a walk in the woods nearby this afternoon. Unfortunately, most of its trees are void of posts with winter approaching though there are still a few evergreens.

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