For the sixth day of World Space Week our space poet Athos Athanasiou writes about space weather and the elements of our solar system and the universe. An astronomy lesson in a poem!
What is the season?
I look down from my spaceship.
It is all of them.
in our geostationary orbit ,
long term climate changes can be
monitored, the data sent
down to earth.
though we are high
we are low enough to be protected
from the harmful effects
of the solar wind,
by Earth’s magnetic field
which bends and turns
the path of those charged particles,
streaming from the Sun
at hundreds of miles
Bouncing some back to hit the atmosphere
to be discharged.
There to be seen
as the great spectacle
of northern and southern lights.
Of our Sun we know a lot.
That photon which took 8 minutes to hit your eye
from when it left the Sun’s corona,
could have taken thousands of years
to get there from its dense core,
as it bounced around its random walk.
The Sun, a star, a factory of atoms,
of everything we touch and feel.
of everything we breathe. (He, N, O, CO2)
The bigger the star the shorter it lives,
but the heavier the atoms it can make.
Up to iron.
For heavier stuff we need a bigger star.
And only in the final seconds of an exploding star
a supernova (type I or II)
can all those other 60 or so elements be formed.
The stars born as collapsing clouds of dust and gas,
The planets forming at the same time, as that cloud begins to spin.
Hence to dance around the stars in steps written by Newton.
A dance that causes tides, turns Io volcanic and crafts the rings of Saturn.
That could cause a rock on Mars, ejected by an impact, to makes its way to earth.
It seems each star has planets
and we are finding thousands.
By transit, lensing and star wobbles.
100 billion in just our Galaxy.
with its arms and bars,
and supermassive black hole in the centre.
All cloaked in a dark matter halo.
And look at other galaxies. They all move away. We see from redshift.
At a rate proportional to distance. So the Universe is expanding.
It must have been smaller in the past. And hotter.
And go back far enough
it must have started.
at a single
A space poem a day – World Space Week day 1