Archives for posts with tag: astronomy

licensed kevin berry
The Very Large Array
by Barbara Crary

The plan: casual, a site suggested
on the internet, a way station just off
the interstate, something to do while
on our way to more interesting things.

The Very Large Array, a designation
to which everyone responds, “What on Earth…?”
And I have to admit my own uncertainty —
Radio telescopes? Big white dishes with antennas?

All searching the heavens for unexpected patterns,
disruptions, anomalies light-years away. Now
I’m no stargazer, and maybe I can find
the Big Dipper on a good night, Orion too.

So why am I here? Perhaps the long stretch of highway,
an adventure on the open road, a morning spent exploring
someplace new, even if only a barren plain of
scrub and wiry grass, a few cows and fewer people.

As we drive, we search the horizon until at last
the telescopes come into view — we think —
tiny white dots against impossibly blue sky.
expanding almost imperceptibly as we approach.

Driving for a half hour or more before arrival,
we should have realized the surprising truth —
the dishes are huge and spaced miles apart,
a shock as we enter the gates and get our bearings.

It was the clash between expectation and reality.
Science, yes, but not just science, technology and the
raw beauty of stark white machines looming against
the bright blue sky of the high desert plains, the synchronized

movement of twenty-seven mechanical behemoths
creating powerful synergy in the unforgiving sun, forever
searching for our place among the stars, stars now obscured
by daylight, but still present, waiting for us to awaken.

The combination of the known world of mechanics and
science with the vast unmapped reaches of space, the
human desire to explore, drawing you down a two-lane
desert highway to a place to make sense of the seen and
the unseen.

PHOTO: The Very Large Array (VLA) near Socorro, New Mexico, by Kevin Berry, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Very Large Array (VLA), comprised of twenty-eight 25-meter (82-foot) radio telescopes, is designed to allow investigations of many astronomical objects. Astronomers using the VLA have made key observations of black holes and protoplanetary disks around young stars, discovered magnetic filaments and traced complex gas motions at the Milky Way’s center, probed the Universe’s cosmological parameters, and provided new knowledge about the physical mechanisms that produce radio emission.The first antenna was put into place in September 1975 and the complex was formally inaugurated in 1980, after a total investment of $78.5 million. (Source: Wikipedia)

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My husband and I visited the VLA as part of a trip to New Mexico three years ago. Although we visited many landmarks in the state, including Carlsbad Caverns, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe and the cliff dwellings at Bandelier National Monument, we are most likely to reminisce about the unexpected and awe-inspiring delight of these space explorers in the western desert.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My husband at the Very Large Array in New Mexico (2017).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Barbara Crary is a retired school psychologist who lives outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She started writing poetry several years ago and often writes in short forms such as haiku. She also enjoys the discipline of creating found poetry using words selected from existing texts. Barbara was a contributing poet to the collection, Whitmanthology: On Loss and Grief and shares her work on her blog ravenredux.wordpress.com.

PHOTO: The author at the International Space Hall of Fame in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

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Haiku
by Alexis Rotella

I see it in a dream
a mask woven
from starlight

Photo by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alexis Rotella is 2019 honorary curator Haiku Archives (California). Her latest book Scratches on the Moon won a Touchstone Distinguished Book Award (2019). In 2018 she curated/edited #MeToo Stories written in Japanese poetry forms), which also won the Touchstone award.

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VENUS ON THE HALF YEAR
(For Mary)

by Mary-Marcia Casoly

She is surpassingly lovely throughout the whole of July,
emerging from the sea. Her northern declination
rapidly decreases

in direct proportion to our increased inclinations.
Divine love twists the torso
but does not prevent Venus from being

the most attractive bewitching grace
in our starlit sky, surfing
her way through our fallibility.

Infinite are summer nights.
Her appointed calendar so full to about
3 o’clock on the half-shell,

Improbably balanced, point ahead naked
or with the naked eye an opera starlet
that dares not collapse. Her transparent skin

so like the moon at last quarter.
Her linear passion takes place 1˚14’
north of the erudite. Sir Regulus takes the handle

of the sickle. Sir Leonis takes her spoon.
Witness this celestial meeting to know
what passes between them.

Nothing less than our failings converge
as tasks and loves yet to be. No reluctance
to become as we once were. Endless summer has

no perspective. Our dreams contrapposto,
at the very same time our principal actors dis-
appear from the scene; and we slip

beneath her horizon. An interesting phenomenon.
The bright moonlight may dim Regulus’s luster,
to no effect on Venus.

The ball keeps moving. Venus on the move and growing
more brilliant night after night in conjunctivitis
cahoots with Gamma Leonis,

following closely convivial conjecture with Rho Leonis.
It may be helpful to have some little knowledge
of opera, when our fairest star reaches

her greatest elongation. She’ll stick her neck out
for us, 45 ˚33’ – no contest.
Venus’s lessons will lengthen

our stay against destiny, drawing from
Kilgore Trout; being one with St. Bridget of Kildare,
thus proving her course changes as butter churns.

Twisting her torso left, she flips her head upside-down,
waterfalls of hair ripple above Rollingstone.
Figures cast no shadows

On the 31st of July she will sit little more than
an hour and a half after the sun. Venus’s right
ascension was the 2nd of July: 9 hrs 50 min long.

She cannot be defined by GPS. The bodies and poses
of the wind, even harder to figure out.
Her eyes are the color of the sea.

Rose petals skim air. She is surpassingly lovely.
Waves ease back and forth, challenge conventional
memory. The constellation of Leo rises.

IMAGE: “The Birth of Violet Venus,” based on “The Birth of Venus” by Sandro Botticelli (1486). Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I found an old newspaper astronomy column dated July 1887. The quaint phrasings brought to mind some midnight social intrigue, and then Botticelli’s Venus arrived on the scene. While writing “Venus on the Half Year” I was told my birth mother had recently died. I was struck how beautiful she looked in her obituary photo. The poem became a kind of elegy, in which I send her onward to mythic rebirth.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary-Marcia Casoly is the author of Run to Tenderness (Pantograph&Goldfish Press 2002) and the editor of Fresh Hot Bread, a local zine for Waverley Writers, an open poetry forum based in the San Francisco Bay area. Her chapbook Lost Pages of Bird Lore was published by Small Change Series, WordTemple Press (2011) Her chapbook “Austrailia Dreaming” is included in the The Ahadada Reader 3, published by Ahadada Press (2010) Her poem “Song of Mayhem” appears in the Silver Birch Press May Poetry Anthology (2014).

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JUNE MOON
by Daniel McGinn

Today was sheltered
in a marine layer, we waded through
a sea without shadows.

Today I made a donation
for the funeral of a friend
killed by a drunk driver.

Tonight I watched a mouse escape from my dog.
I watched pink feet and black fur blur across concrete.
Tonight I saw the moon
poke its head out from the clouds
a black mist began rising up like a cape
to cover the chin, the lips, the teeth…

Lori asked me,
Does the moon always show us the same face
or does it sometimes show us other faces?
I don’t know, I said and we marveled
at how clouds had misshapen the moon’s skull.
It looked dented and pockmarked.
It looked like it had been kicked
and kicked repeatedly.

Feral kittens under my house began to yowl.
My dog ran zigzags
and barked and barked and barked.
A mouse squeezed her body into a hole in a brick wall,
a tight passage, small as a pencil spine,
then the mouse was gone.

No lights twinkled.
The moon turned dark as a dime
dropped down a slot.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Daniel McGinn’s writing has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including So Luminous the Wildflowers and Beyond the Valley of the Contemporary Poets. He was a journalist for the East Whittier Review, the OC Weekly and Next Magazine. He has hosted poetry shows across Southern California and performed at a variety of venues such as The Bowery Poetry Club in NYC and The Fuse in Philadelphia. Five of his chapbooks have been included in the Laguna Poets Series. 1,000 Black Umbrellas, his full length book of poetry, was published in 2012 by Write Bloody Publishing. “June Moon” and other writing by Daniel McGinn appears in the Silver Birch Press Summer Anthology (2013).

PAINTING: “La page blanche” (“The white page”) by René Magritte (1967).

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Kepler-22b
by Tamara Madison

There you are at last!
I’m sure it’s you –
I can almost see you
there, waving at me:
my twin, my soul mate
my lover. Now
I can give up my search.
It’s only a matter of time
when we’ll be together
my love, my perfect
love. At last
someone who sees me
who knows me
who understands me
without words,
someone whom I too
will see and understand –
someone I can devote
my life to.
It will not matter
that our arms
may not match
that our bodies
may not fit
that we have no
common language
but the language
of desire
pulsing from your heart
to mine
over the mere 600 light years
that lie in the vast
and hopeful darkness
between your balmy
juicy world
and mine.

IMAGE: Artist’s conception of Kepler-22b (Credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech).

NOTE: Kepler-22b is an extrasolar planet orbiting G-type star Kepler-22, located about 600 light years from Earth in the constellation of Cygnus. Discovered by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope in 2011, it is the first known transiting planet to orbit within the habitable zone of a Sun-like star — the region where liquid water, a requirement for life on Earth, could persist. The planet is 2.4 times the size of Earth. (Read more at wikipedia.org.)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tamara Madison teaches English and French at a public high school in Los Angeles. Raised on a citrus farm in the California desert, Tamara’s life has taken her many places, including Europe and the former Soviet Union, where she spent fifteen months in the 1970s. A swimmer and dog lover, Tamara says, “All I ever wanted to do with my life was write, and I mostly write poetry because it suits my lifestyle; I like the way one can say so much in the economical space of a poem.”

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GRAVITY
by John Frederick Nims

Mildest of all the powers of earth: no lightnings
For her—maniacal in the clouds. No need for
Signs with their skull and crossbones, chain-link gates:
Danger! Keep Out! High Gravity! she’s friendlier.
Won’t nurse—unlike the magnetic powers—repugnance;
Would reconcile, draw close: her passion’s love.
 
No terrors lurking in her depths, like those
Bound in that buzzing strongbox of the atom,
Terrors that, lossened, turn the hills vesuvian,
Trace in cremation where the cities were.
 
No, she’s our quiet mother, sensible.
But therefore down-to-earth, not suffering
Fools who play fast and loose among the mountains,
Who fly in her face, or, drunken, clown on cornices.
 
She taught our ways of walking. Her affection
Adjusted the morning grass, the sands of summer
Until our soles fit snug in each, walk easy.
Holding her hand, we’re safe. Should that hand fail,
The atmosphere we breathe would turn hysterical,
Hiss with tornadoes, spinning us from earth
Into the cold unbreathable desolations.
 
Yet there—in fields of space—is where she shines,
Ring-mistress of the circus of the stars,
Their prancing carousels, their ferris wheels
Lit brilliant in celebration. Thanks to her
All’s gala in the galaxy.
 
                                   Down here she
Walks us just right, not like the jokey moon
Burlesquing our human stride to kangaroo hops;
Not like vast planets, whose unbearable mass
Would crush us in a bear hug to their surface
And into the surface, flattened. No: deals fairly.
Makes happy each with each: the willow bend
Just so, the acrobat land true, the keystone
Nestle in place for bridge and for cathedral.
Let us pick up—or mostly—what we need:
Rake, bucket, stone to build with, logs for warmth,
The fallen fruit, the fallen child . . . ourselves.
 
Instructs us too in honesty: our jointed
Limbs move awry and crisscross, gawky, thwart;
She’s all directness and makes that a grace,
All downright passion for the core of things,
For rectitude, the very ground of being:
Those eyes are leveled where the heart is set.
 
See, on the tennis court this August day:
How, beyond human error, she’s the one
Whose will the bright balls cherish and obey
—As if in love. She’s tireless in her courtesies
To even the klutz (knees, elbows all a-tangle),
Allowing his poky serve Euclidean whimsies,
The looniest lob its joy: serene parabolas.

SOURCE: “Gravity” appears in John Frederick Nims’ collection The Six-Cornered Snowflake and Other Poems (New Directions, 1990), available at Amazon.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Poet and academic John Frederick Nims (1913-1999) graduated from DePaul University, University of Notre Dame with an M.A., and from the University of Chicago with a Ph.D. He taught English at Harvard University, the University of Florence, the University of Toronto, Williams College and the University of Missouri. His books of poetry include Zany in Denim (University of Arkansas Press, 1990); The Six-Cornered Snowflake and Other Poems (1990); The Kiss: A Jambalaya (1982); Knowledge of the Evening (1960), nominated for a National Book Award; A Fountain in Kentucky (1950); and The Iron Pastoral (1947). Among his honors are an American Academy of Arts and Letters award, a National Foundation for the Arts and Humanities grant, and fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, The Guggenheim Foundation, and The Institute of the Humanities. He served as editor of Poetry magazine from 1978 to 1984.

Painting: ”Le Château des Pyrénées” by René Magritte (1959)

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MOON HAIKU
by Matsunaga Teitoku (1571-1654)

Many solemn nights
Blond moon, we stand and marvel…
Sleeping our noons away. 

PHOTO: The moon rises behind the helicopter from the original Batman television show, which people can ride at the New Jersey State Fair, Saturday, June 22, 2013, in East Rutherford, N.J.  (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

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CHEESE POEM: THE MOON
By Oliver Herford

The Moon is like a big round cheese
That shines above the garden trees,

And like a cheese grows less each night,
     
As though some one had had a bite.
 

 
The Mouse delights to nibble cheese,
     
The Dog bites anything he sees —

But how could they bite off the Moon
     
Unless they went in a balloon?
 

 
And Human People, when they eat
     
They think it rude to bite their meat,

They use a Knife or Fork or Spoon;
     
Who is it then that bites the moon?

Photo: “Yellow Full Moon” by Faiza, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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THE MOON
by Robert Louis Stevenson

The moon has a face like the clock in the hall;
She shines on thieves on the garden wall,
On streets and fields and harbour quays,
And birdies asleep in the forks of the trees.

The squalling cat and the squeaking mouse,
The howling dog by the door of the house,
The bat that lies in bed at noon,
All love to be out by the light of the moon.

But all of the things that belong to the day
Cuddle to sleep to be out of her way;
And flowers and children close their eyes
Till up in the morning the sun shall arise.

PHOTO: A “supermoon“– closer to the Earth than normal and appearing 14% larger — rises behind roadside plants growing in Prattville, Ala., Saturday, June 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

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A CAVE OF ANGELFISH HUDDLE AGAINST THE MOON
by Ron De Maris

Put an ear to the light at fall
of dark and you will hear
nothing. This pale luminescence
that drifts in upon them
makes a blue bole of their caves,
a scare of their scything
tails. They tell
in the bubbling dark of images
that come in upon them
when light spreads like an oil slick
and sea fans
that once were their refuge
turn away.
Now there is no dark
dark enough for their silver tails,
scatter of color
(like coins massively
piling in the lap of a miser)
that was, in the day, their pride.
How hugely here we belong.
This is their song
in the silting
drift of the reef.
They have never seen the moon
nor the black scut of night, stars
spread like plankton
in their beastly infinities.

Photo:“Queen Angelfish” Chris Huss/NOAA