Star Gazing in Gateshead

casseopiea

Another about astronomy/star gazing. I may try and do a series if I can get out in my back yard with binoculars on clear nights! People forget that our sun is a star so this poem starts off with my memory of drawing sun spots when I used a 3″ refractor ‘scope to project the image onto paper. Note: Cassiopeia is Queen of Ethiopia.

I remember the summer of ‘78
chasing sunspots across paper,
not that they were fast and loose,
more a case of drifting an inch a day
from right to left, pock-marked face focussed
through pristine lens. Since then the years
have drifted by, now I have only my eyes
as I grope my way into my urban backyard
light pollution rinsing grey what should be
lamp-black sky. I still recognise them;
the W of Cassiopeia, the pan handle of the Great Bear
and Leo the Lion – yes, my yard faces north – Orion
chases a bull out of sight, Sirius is barking
at my front door.

Thirty seven Earth years since I star-hopped
from Cassiopeia’s knee to her head, thirty seven
since I admired her anatomy. Ethiopia’s queen
is 45 light years distant – may no longer exist –
but tonight I have her in the palm of my hand.

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