LIGO

 

It didn’t look like much – just a jiggle of lines on the screen,
Like the ECG chart of the heartbeat of a dying man
Dragging every precious breath from the air,
Or the marks scratched by a pen onto a paper scroll
As a tremor rolled along the San Andreas Fault.
But it was History, there for all to see, an image
As glorious as Galileo’s asterix-etched sketch of Jupiter’s
Mischevious moons, or Rosse’s portrait of the great
Whirlpool drawn at the Leviathan’s eye;
A record of a whisper that had travelled for more than a billion years,
So soft, so faint that the slow turn of a page
In a library’s quietest corner would sound as loud
As a hurricane’s howling wind to the instruments’ ears,
And the lifting of a single strand of a sleeping new-born’s hair
By a passing summer breeze would crack like a Balrog’s whip.
Hard to believe, looking at that jagged mountain range trace
That we were staring the deepest of deep physics in the face,
Looking back in time to when a pair of black holes danced,
Swirling dervishes, dense as 60 Suns,
Their shirts and skirts of Hawking radiation twirling as they whirled
Around each other in a giddy reel, then
Hurtled together at half the speed of Light –

What a sight that must have been,
But hominid eyes would not look to the sky for an eternity more,
And when it finally cocked an ear in their direction
LIGO could hear only echoes of their ancient laughter,
Waves tumbling in from the depths of space and time,
Lapping at our feet, rippling round, through and past the Earth
Like the melodies of distant whale-song.

© Stuart Atkinson 2016

 

Farewell Philae – For now

 

Beneath sheets of sparkling frost,
Lost Philae sleeps now, and will doze
Until, one day, who knows when,
Men and women from Earth,
Their boots crusted with clods of soot-black comet
Dust and snow will crump slowly across
67P’s frozen plains and see it –
A glint of gold in a shadow,
High up on a crumbling cliff’s side,
Shining like a wolf’s eye.
And then the Fellowship of Philae
Will hike up Seth’s serrated cliffs
Until, high above Hapi’s sands
They’ll reach out with shaking hands
And drag it from its icy tomb
Into the light, setting it upright again,
Brushing years of ice and dust
From its face before taking it
To its final resting place – a glass case
At ESOC, spotlights warming it,
Thawing a century of frostbite…

But for now, Philae sleeps,
Without Rosetta’s alarm clock beep-beep-beep
Interrupting its dreams
Of what might have been,
If only those hapless harpoons had fired…
If only it hadn’t bounced like a rubber ball…
If only it hadn’t fallen into that dark place,
Landing, legs splayed,
In a lonely hole hidden from the Sun’s precious rays…

(c) Stuart Atkinson 2016

https://astropoetry.wordpress.com/2016/08/18/farewell-philae-for-now/

Space Within

Considering the expanding universe and ultimate cooling, I pause
remembering photos of star birth amid nebulosity,
nuclear furnaces blossoming.

Telescopes in orbit or secluded in foreign deserts
produce pictures in lights we cannot see
show immensities in glorious un-colours.

In the back garden, I look up, past scudding clouds,
watch coloured pinpricks arrayed over black sky
with occasional satellites twinkling by beneath.

Feeling the breeze, green with trees, redolent with life
thinking of all those things we cannot see
here and all the way up there.

Copyright © 2018 Kim Whysall-Hammond

https://thecheesesellerswife.wordpress.com/2018/08/25/space-within/

Al Bean

Al Bean left NASA
to paint
with an unconventional palette

heat shield particles
and Moon dust
and Command Module gold
mixed in with

the ordinary colours
of Earth

From the blog of Tychogirl, who specialises in Astro-poetry,

https://tychogirl.wordpress.com/2019/04/07/al-bean/

 

bean

interstellar space: a diptych

 

interstellar-space001

 

 

A February 28, 1914 Scientific American article redacted into a poem about Voyager’s journey into interstellar space.

 

from TychoGirl : https://tychogirl.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/interstellar-space-a-dipytch/

Solar

Suspended lion face
Spilling at the centre
Of an unfurnished sky
How still you stand,
And how unaided
Single stalkless flower
You pour unrecompensed.

The eye sees you
Simplified by distance
Into an origin,
Your petalled head of flames
Continuously exploding.
Heat is the echo of your
Gold.

Coined there among
Lonely horizontals
You exist openly.
Our needs hourly
Climb and return like angels.
Unclosing like a hand,
You give for ever.

 

by Philip Larkin

Stargazer

Forty-two years ago (to me if to no one else
The number is of some interest) it was a brilliant starry night
And the westward train was empty and had no corridors
So darting from side to side I could catch the unwonted sight
Of those almost intolerably bright
Holes, punched in the sky, which excited me partly because
Of their Latin names and partly because I had read in the textbooks
How very far off they were, it seemed their light
Had left them (some at least) long years before I was.

And this remembering now I mark that what
Light was leaving some of them at least then,
Forty-two years ago, will never arrive
In time for me to catch it, which light when
It does get here may find that there is not
Anyone left alive
To run from side to side in a late night train
Admiring it and adding noughts in vain.