Sunday, November 16, 2008

Just over a year

It's just over a year since I started this blog. It's evolved into something quite different from my original intent, but I'm not unhappy about that. I like that I can post any subject that comes to mind. I'm not confined to my blog title, choices.

Today I'm thinking about the air quality and the gray sky left dirty and murky from the fallout from all the fires in Santa Barbara, Slymar, Diamond Bar, Palos Verdes that have been rampaging these last few days. I couldn't even do my usual long Sunday walk to the beach this morning for fear of getting congested and short-winded. It is definitely a day to stay indoors with the windows closed. So, it seems appropriate to post a poem I wrote a while back about star gazing. And, no, I don't expect to see any stars out tonight.

Star Fishing

Today I want to tell you about variable stars.
They intrigue me because they change.
They change in brightness.
Some repeat cycles with almost clocklike precision
others change irregularly.
Some require only hours or days
to return to their starting brightness.
Others require years to change.
Yet, whether they change imperceptibly or violently
all variable stars change.

The most spectacular variable is the Nova.
It can get up to 200,000 times brighter than the Sun.
But, alas, it is temporary.
It periodically blows off a tiny percent of the Sun’s mass
at speeds up to 600 miles a second
until it loses too much mass to continue.
Whereas Supernovas brighten up to 10 billion times
the Sun’s brightness for a few days
and then fade away forever.

One more thing.
Variable stars change their brightness by pulsating
ever expanding and contracting
like a balloon,
They repeat their brightness cycles
from one day to hundreds of days
and are hundreds of times more luminous
than the Sun.

Well, that’s it.
Now go out into your yard
lean back in your recliner
gaze up into that black starry sky
and see if you can find your own variable star
amidst the 8000 stars visible to the naked eye.
See if you can catch its luminosity.
Surely you can.
Surely you can.

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