The Universe in My Backyard

The following poem was created as an entry for the Trinidad and Tobago Astronomical Society’s Art and Poetry Competition 2013, and is intended to give a seasonal (four-month) tour of the Universe from my backyard. All observations were made from latitude 10 degrees North of the equator.

The formatted submission, in its original form can be downloaded for viewing here.

The background feature image is Card No. 24 of Urania’s Mirror which can be found @ http://www.ianridpath.com/atlases/urania/urania24.jpg

In the poem, the items in italics are the names of stellar objects, that is, stars.


 The Universe in My Backyard

by Vindra Khanai

 

The Universe is in my backyard, or so I have been told,

Stories passed through all the ages from the many days of old.

Back then the night sky told stories with heroes great and small,

But now it tells stories of planets, moons, stars, galaxies and all.

 

The vernal equinox comes in March, and marks the start of spring,

Many bright stars can be seen in the sky this time from winter whence then rose

Bright Betelgeuse, Bellatrix and Rigel of Orion The Hunter from times of yore,

Overhead Sirius and Procyon of Canis Major and Minor (The Big Dog and The Little Dog).

Southwards lies Canopus of Carina, the keel of the Argo’s ship

While northwards climbs Capella and Goat-kids above Auriga’s hip.

High westward stand Twin Castor and Pollux, two stick figures in the sky (Gemini),

Way below is red Aldebaran, of Taurus, it is the eye.

This Great Bull is charging at The Hunter, a great battle being fought,

On its shoulder The Bull carries the Pleiades – The Seven Sisters Orion sought.

 

The Universe is in my backyard, or so I have been told,

Stories passed through all the ages from the many days of old.

 

In June it is the Solstice, mid-summer in Northern lands,

Southward lies the Wolf Lupus, slayed at The Centaur’s hand.

On the leg of great Centaurus lies Alpha and Beta Centauri,

Along with invisible Proxima, they are the closest stars in our night sky.

These two bright stars (Alpha and Beta Centauri) are used to point,

Towards the Southern Cross,

A constellation once said to help sailors find direction when they were lost.

 

The Universe is in my backyard, or so I have been told,

Stories passed through all the ages from the many days of old.

 

September brings the fall Equinox, also known as Autumn,

Southwest hangs the faint, dim shield, whose Latin name is Scutum.

Below is poised The Great Archer (Sagittarius), drawn arrow in his bow,

Taking aim at bright red super-giant star Antares, heart of Scorpio.

Above them all flies Cygnus (The Swan) and Aquila (The Eagle) in the night air,

The bright stars of these constellations being Deneb and Altair.

 

The Universe is in my backyard, or so I have been told,

Stories passed through all the ages from the many days of old.

 

December brings the Winter Solstice and the end of the calendar year,

Now the Southern sky mixes sights of water creatures and those of air.

Chased by the water snake (Hydrus), three birds fly: Tucana, Phoenix, and Grus (The Crane),

The bright star of all these birds being the sub-giant, Alnair (in Grus).

Bright Achernar stands out blue, marking the end of the sky-ward river (Eridanus),

While Fomalhaut shines at the mouth of The Southern Fish,

Look close, it’s just a sliver! (Piscis Austrinus).

The Flying Horse (Pegasus), The Great Hero (Perseus), and

The Chained Princess freed (Andromeda), can be seen escaping into the setting West,

While The Great Hunter rises East… the sky turns once more, no less!

 

The Universe is in my backyard, or so I have been told,

Stories passed through all the ages from the many days of old.

Back then the night sky told stories with heroes great and small,

But now it tells stories of planets, moons, stars, galaxies and all!

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