Stars Burn Out
EDITORIAL Until the Stars Burn Out is a magazine devoted to exploring our perception of astronomy and our place in the Universe. I first started it when I was 17. It survived one single print run, and sold a few copies at summer festivals and craft fairs. It wasn’t until I started my PhD in astronomy a year ago that such a project seemed viable again. In the time since then and now -- which was half my life ago -- I have travelled the world as an artist, writer and scientist, and what I have learned is that people everywhere love the stars, and want to learn more about them and the Universe around us. This magazine has tried to curate as many different views and perspectives as possible. We live in a strange world -- we can detect subatomic particles and peer deeper into the Universe’s history than ever before, and yet 80% of people living in cities have never seen the Milky Way, although this is our common heritage and is visible from any dark location on any clear night. Inequal access to education means that many people simply never have the opportunity to look up and learn what they wanted to. The writers and artists who have submitted work come from a diverse set of backgrounds. Unfortunately, only around 30% of contributors sent in a biography, so I made the difficult decision to dispense with that section entirely just this once (I won’t, for future issues -- I know it’s annoying). However, the contributors include Imams, astrophysics professors, art teachers, historians, retired physicists, engineers, awardwinning poets, park rangers working in the field of light pollution, as well as several previously-unpublished writers. Having this broad spread of perspectives is very important
to me, and I strongly wish to encourge as many diverse perspectives as possible for future issues. With this in mind, I have overlooked one or two minor points which intellectual purists might find fault with, and I strongly encourage others to do the same. I had originally planned to write a much longer editorial introducing some of my favourite pieces in this magazine, since there are a few which deserve to be highlighted. Unfortunately, Iâ€™ve run out of time and space, and I hope the pieces included will spark a curiosity which will encourage you to discover more about some of the topics. So, on that note, I invite you to browse through the pages of this magazine, and if there are any comments, complaints or sources of confusion please let me know, and I will do my best to address them in the future. Until then, I wish you many nights of pondering the many worlds beyond our atmosphere, and of course the one very fragile one inside it that we share. Clear skies, Maya Editor, Until the Stars Burn Out September 2018
A NAVIGATION FROM SPICA TO ARCTURUS for Dr. Stephen Hopwood Susan Taylor I From Spica a star on the serpentâ€™s crest, agitated, strange Mind you my heart making nonsense, breaking pattern and natureâ€™s rule, breaking rank, not a Dali clock melting moments, but Picasso-faced woman from his fourth dimension, intricacies of symmetry no longer relevant. Mind you my heart, the click-tock of its clock sped over its limit, sense of direction lost in integral electrical storms, unpredictable alarm whether stepping forward or back, each individual beat a lost grain of sand in a sand slip.
II To Arcturus the Northern hemisphere’s brightest star Mind you my heart retuning itself in breakfast’s barrage of capsules, supplementation regimen, iron, magnesium, vitamin D3, vits A to E and the rest, chlorella, barley grass, spirulina co-enzyme Q10, also intake of oils starflower, flax, oodles of olive, Chinese herbs with poem titles for names, Emporor’s Tea, Golden Book, the regular shedding of worries in a physician’s presence, his care, his cure, the ancient process of acupuncture, body as star chart, meridian lines, dry sand runs into water flame vents into air, the live tree of the skeleton longing to dance. Mind you, my heart recognises the process, alien from a Western perspective. Somehow my heart accepts its mending. The fine needles insert tiny keels and I find I have sails.
NIGHTâ€™S MUSIC Tessa Dixon The stars witness the sandy granite look Pierced by ripples in the water As jet eyes stare the outward glare Of night Tip toe of silk ballet dancer shoes, Like crickets on soft grass gliding, Across the nights sky Comets meteors and the glitter of rock granite lights up black heart Cold unable to let in whatâ€™s needed I observe - where have you gone ? Your lips are moving your eyes look but your gone - somewhere safe away from prying eyes, lips and quiet glances The room is cold, flowers wither and turn grey like silver confetti slowly turning to ice. The lights fade to a black shadow illuminated by distant street lamps and cracks in drains, pavements and manholes. Metallic glare and touch shining with nearby rainy tears and caves in the mind. Amber flash of cats eyes and tail dart across the rocks and stones of yesterday-
The moon’s shadow creeps and lights up the way for nocturnal heavens in dark alleys Littered with rubbish, old cans and junk. I can see the bright night’s breath Inhale and exhale and all the windows illuminating dust sand granite rocks and swirling lava Aerial views from up here clouds billowing purples, navy’s and black, I pull the twilight blanket over me and lie down humming purring and gently gliding I sense whispers, music, notes diving through the branches rustling and breaking The wind, a lullaby of rocking notes, Different shades of grey, dark silver, ebony, coal Can I even see a space that is totally black? In this vast expanse of sky and sea but where does the sea begin and sky finish and where does the ground start and the sky disappear It all looks the same from up here on my perch of whispy mistKiller whale back finned clouds swooshing through night dust and Energetic waves of light, laughter and journeying tucked up for night’s music. Night’s music a lullaby for tawny owl or Chinese water deer or fox cub and cat a mystic blink of amber eyes nestled in night’s painting and duvet. Wake me up when nights music has summoned its final overture and sleepily I will wait till the conductor of stars is back Riding chariots resounding with percussion, viola leaf symphonies and orchestral resonance.
J (Î˝) =
3Be3 sin Î¸ 4Ď€0 cme
In the dark There they are: Dancing round The lines of force -The long, slow loss. Up close Thereâ€™s nothing there: Empty space That only distance Lets us see.
F (x)N (E)dE
SMALLER THAN Nadia Kingsley If the solar system was shrunk in scale to the length of three buses nose to tail A golf ball would hold our Sun in its girth And a flea would be larger than the Earth
EARLY ON Nadia Kingsley The temperature soars as gravity squeezes tight Hydrogen to Helium the side effect is light
A TANKA FOR THE REST OF IT Annie Gilliland We pull stardust in – black holes, red dwarfs, nebulae – a gasp, into us. At dawn we exhale again, hollow with light and questions.
CLOSE SCRUTINY Karen Little I look beyond fields, no longer content with grass; a trip beyond the confines of three dimensions, the fourth inside my head. My gaze is pulled to the heights; the olive line where pink hovers, before electing to settle on blue. Stars are invited to suspend above palest horizon. I pull levers, angle an extreme upwards tilt, and play our favourite dot-to- dot without numbers; join free-hand shapes, ever changeable choices without end. If Iâ€™m tempted to take the straightest path, he convinces me to meander at times, because truth can be found in the curve of loops. My star is the palest one, milky pearl amongst sharp diamonds. Closest to it, the star I bought him in my first trimester. I wanted to buy him everything. I still do. He is in his spaceship the size of a vacuum flask. He wears the lid. His heart didnâ€™t burst; his lungs still suck in oxygen. I adjust my lens to pick out the tiniest detail. I see the blue of his irises.
ANDROMEDA Mark Totterdell
How bright we are to see the fixed stars and the falling star and grasp their simple size and distance ratio, to know that oneâ€™s a local speck, those others massive, unimaginably far. It has to be, extending this geometry, one fuzzy star is a whole multi-billion star galaxy, a smudge thatâ€™s vaster, magnitudes more far than all besides that we, with our faint eyes, will ever see.
LAS LAGRIMAS DE SAN LORENZO Jacqueline Knight Last notes of ‘pasadoble’ float on August breeze as weary bearers unshoulder Saint Lawrence, snaked round streets waxed from reverent candles, worshipped by faithful plumed in Fiesta finery, bats flit from church tower like fluttering fans as bobbing firecrackers rent the night air. Escape from cordite, find respite in cool ‘campo’, lie beneath moonless sky, sweet with night jasmine, cloak of darkness sprinkled with star shine like Catherine wheel glitter on cobbled ‘Plaza’, mind stilled in dazed awe of skyscape wonder, unblinking, await Saint Lawrence’s tears. Thousand years of Perseid particles, Swift-Tuttle shower adorns Fiesta sky, raining arrow flights of blazing light, weeping salt silver in Earth’s graze, cosmology transcended as sparks of fire commemorate the burning of Saint Lawrence.
IN WHICH S.F. WRITER SPOTS HIMSELF IN A SHOP WINDOW Gram Joel Davis A grey figure at the blinking crossing, long-limbed, with eyes like beetles high on his face, who deals in glyphs and probables. It doesnâ€™t matter that the S.F. Writer appropriates his life from others --when the code running in a person is scrambled, it is not absolute but a continuum-nothing is excluded from comparison The S.F. Writerâ€™s nervous system is invisible on the screen that flickers-by traffic while his corduroy jacket has a foil quality over the steel cookware on display. Laser styluses cue from the sky. There is someone in Barbarella make-up and hair, heel clicking and wrapping her brilliant thesis under Cosmo holograms.
This town phases moped pizzas with lager-goons, drain rumbling and dystopic. The drones of recently read articles orbit him through cortisol-rigged conduits. His chameleon suit remained in its closet this morning (heâ€™s going bold) but one matriarch admiring a casserole bigger than a radar looks right through him. He imagines a clock-tickcabbage-patten waveform radiating from his solar plexus, clusters of deadlines and dud lines. Characters move, further into the glass. A young hacker with his kit fixed to his ears and a face full of implants nods past.
CATCHING THE WAVE Mantz Yorke A century on from Einstein’s prophecy, they were sure the sophisticated technology would someday detect an infinitesimal rippling from convulsions in the cosmos. Their concrete, orthogonal V, twinned in Louisiana, stretches miles across the sagebrush: in each evacuated arm split laser beams zing up and down, merge and transcribe Earth’s every creak into shivering bands of light. The moon’s diurnal heave; seismic shiftings in the crust; vibrations from passing trucks, the airport’s planes, and the thundering cataracts of snow-melt released from dams – all had to be excised if they were to identify a gravitational tsunami less than a proton high. They must have felt like Vladimir and Estragon, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, till a flick both here and in Louisiana confirmed it: the earth had truly moved.
IN WHICH THE S.F. WRITER TALKS TO AN ENGLISHWOMAN ON A RURAL BUS ROUTE Gram Joel Davis While overheard spacefarers don’t traverse the matter-beam towards us with their seraphim intentions, but on the next seat she rattles lyrical in that dialect the moneyed use, to stake her peasant bloodline down and, outside, the overhang patters along the upper deck so that the S.F. Writer hears an infestation of legs rending the shield glass, through which prim verges can be seen to run to villages whose timelocked dwellings bow onto the rosette monoliths of jubilees: such ancients, compared to which she is sylphling, mayfly maybe, giving places names that splice a lineage of conquerors onto those they crushed, when suddenly near the back seat someone uplugs headphones with a plosive burst of digitised sonics and the bus lurches on a humpback, being sandcrawler or daft robot salvaged from the dune, making both of them grasp for the same pole, not that she pauses over how she, blazered and satchelled, caught trains on that earthy promontory where the engines screamed an iron cloud like one of his mad proffessor’s punk contraptions (its pinging gizmos and brass astrolabes a’spinning), their decommissioning in fact shameful, to which he agrees because no power is higher than steam, swapped as it was for this breaking, back-tracking farce-full of all-aboard college-goers, no measure of tethered lightning nor intercission of the atom accomplished such Empires empirical, the grudging deflation of it he can spot whistling inside the woman’s sockets like the spook of a spitfire, phantom-diving and coming up with insistences about erosion of culture, aliens encroaching on a borderless past, no matter if it is good Catholics from the eastern bloc who want to drive our buses but there is an acid, raining unseen on greenbelt, she feels The Never Ending Story unfold within her like an unwitting amputee, though he perceives that houses bubble up in clusters of white clones across the hedgerow, he hears the tapered intonation streetwalking out of that iPhone and it inseminates the groupchat of passengers, and he senses the campus, melting in the data pulse from corporate pylons.
LAST RITES Mantz Yorke Gathered, we are watching the green trace on the screen. The spike on the fuzzy plateau tells us you’re still alive. In these last moments we remember what we did to make successful your twenty years of life, and the dramatic images – the rings, groovy as an LP; geysers on Enceladus; Titan’s stones; Iapetus’ grot. The spike shortens and is gone: you’re cremated by the plunge into Saturn’s murky sphere. We applaud, welling up with tears.
The Cassini-Huyghens space probe, launched 15 October 1997, ended its mission on 15 September 2017
THE PLEIADES Suzy Rowland A clear night sky over Birmingham when winters were cold, and nights delivered heavy frosts, we craned our necks as far back as they would go, the main constellations mother pointed out, were easy to identify: The Plough, The Bear, Orion’s Belt, spotting the Seven Sisters was trickier and felt like a lottery win although the National Lottery wasn’t launched yet. London’s Planetarium (now closed), evoked similar elation lying supine, I felt close to the stars, the planets, a little girl in a big universe. Crystalline skies flicker in my dreams although mother’s star is put out. She has become a constellation her voice bends towards me pointing out the same patterns I show my children, that they will show theirs – a magical game as old as creation, that will hopefully, last for eternity.
IN WHICH S.F. WRITER CONDUCTS THE TWO SLIT EXPERIMENT Gram Joel Davis The UNISEX’s chrome bulkhead crashes open in a nebula of smoke and pheromones. The bookie with a long wait exterminates his dog-end then pockets hands in a leather bomber. Somehow, he’s found out what the SF writer does. “You need universal appeal, mate.” The bug zapper glowers bluer than paraffin. When not footprinting the dusty expanse, the S.F. Writer moonlights in a terminus kiosk. He rings change for a packet of Starburst and rolls-up the tobacco hatch. Slick evening. Few boarders for the fifty-seven. Recessed in greasy brick, the confectionery console bleeps in the sweep of a head-beam. Bus windows scroll through the vacuum. The writer makes two fingers on each hand while nobody observes. Everyone passes through here, like Einstein pissparticle, polystyrene takeaway tea.
VALENTINA Karen Little The year my eyes saw over the table, I was Valentina Tereshkova, first woman in space, trying to defeat the Daleks.
On a planet where asteroid impact gouged out craters and binary stars lit the way, I summoned my resources.
I was Valentina Tereshkova, terrifying myself trying to defeat the Daleks who wanted to destroy me.
Where asteroid impact gouged out craters, I hid amongst them with a laser gun. I summoned my resources to aim for shiny Dalek probes.
Terrifying myself, the first woman in space, who wanted to destroy me the year my eyes saw over the table.
I hid amongst them with a laser gun, the first woman in space to aim for shiny Dalek probes, the year my eyes saw over the table.
WHAT I LEARNT ABOUT LOVE FROM NEIL ARMSTRONG Stewart Carswell I’d always wanted to be an astronaut and follow you into space. As a kid I read books on constellations so I’d know my way around when I got there. I studied Physics to learn about escape velocity, geostationary orbit. It was at university I met my girlfriend. She was like me— like you—captivated by space and distance and our place within it. Did I tell you we’re married now? We settled and grounded each other. It was at our reception that I heard the news: there we had fireworks that failed to reach your height, sparklers that said we could be stars, and I stayed outside to smoke overlooking the estuary when John came over and said "Neil Armstrong’s died". And you know how it seems everything just stops sometimes, like the world has stopped turning? This was like that. But it didn’t matter because there’s a whole universe out there still spinning, still growing, and you taught us to step out into it. I’m forever impressed
by how far you went with your small steps like a first dance, we have to start somehow. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you, Neil. We raised a toast for you and I wanted the perfect full moon reflected in the estuary but it was obscured by clouds, so I’ll trust that the moon is up there cratered with your footprints because I have seen the tide tonight rise and fall in the estuary, and I’ll trust that rockets are there to control the descent to earth because I know you came home more alive than before, and I’ll trust that love is there to hold my marriage together though I know everything happens in cycles and orbits and one day my footprints too will be out of reach.
SCRABBLING Nigel Hutchinson The writer is tired of his name, has counted the letters scores 34 without trying; he has letters to spare, would like to trade in or give them away, he stopped signing in full years ago, you can only read the first letter if he makes the effort, he has a middle name his mother only used when he was naughty. His mother did not like her name either. His family played Scrabble, he knows there are twenty six letters and what they cost, wonders why he got those he has, admits he should be grateful he has no Qs â€”ten points, or Zs â€” with a double word score he could make sixty-eight, treble word one hundred and two, his sister (42) escaped and got a name with only three letters (13), he is envious, considers stealing it, his sister will notice; he is not often envious, not of your car or house, maybe of bees (6, 12, 18) calculating viable distances from food, a dog's daily enthusiasm, a window view of a ruined abbey, a room with enough bookshelves (23, 46, 51), a poem he wishes he'd written, maybe of first class airport lounges, the ability to sing in tune, sew, or knit, he knows that bees, dogs, birds, frogs cannot knit or sew, but he does not want to sing like them,
he is unclear about the names of all Seven Deadly Sins, though he is not jealous of zebra's stripes (17, 37,111), or ziggurat builders achievements (19, 38,135), he has been lustful (69), and sometimes sits and stares into space. Not at the stars whose names he wishes he could remember, or satellites, or tail lights of aeroplanes, just the blank infinity of it all.
AFTER THE BANG
A cloud of lonely hydrogen atoms floating in a hazy fog Gravity the matchmaker that brings them together; in the absolute coldness of space they bind in pairs; their numbers grow as the pressure builds so too the heat more gas arrives falling into the protostar releasing energy; more heat and then LIGHT across the void the universe is lucent; illuminations like giant glowworms in an infinite cave burning blue the ultraviolet piercing the opaque vacuum as stars are truly born then quickly die their glorious heat fusing atoms carbon, oxygen, silicon then exploding; hypernova scattering their bounty of the heavy elements from which everything is made concocted in the primordial forge of the first stars bringing into being our sun, our planet and us for we are stardust from after the Bang
MARS’S UNCANNY VALLES Annie Gilliland
The uncanny valley: originally a robotics concept stating that as a figure or object becomes more familiar and humanlike our affinity for it increases, until it is too similar and we plunge into deep discomfort.
When we aim our telescopes at Mars sometimes we hear, “Oh, it’s just that little dot?” Yes. This shining pinpoint, dirty brown between smudgy grey ice caps is supposed to be the god of war, be familiar and habitable and start a war between worlds - our first extraterrestrial residence. Didn’t you see your new neighborhood? Down low in the valles and basins, up high in the volcanic peaks? Can you not picture your new house stained with oxidized red: Where we will be almost-home on almost-Earth, but you’ll be one third of your heavy self (until you remove the protective gear) and half as old as you were (until we rethink it all). You’ll certainly feel the chill (don’t go out at night) as you try to pretend it’s just winter and these new habits are familiar. Earthly. What you do not see is that the little dusty dot is all the times we will fail and lose and break because we dared to reach past the exosphere. But it is also the one time we might succeed Out of desperation resistance and marvel living uncanny lives.
MARS 1 PROJECT Jacqueline Woods The unknown holds no history, The past wiped of its fingerprint, A future yet unformed. Pilgrims in rudderless space We cling to our destiny. Seven years gestation: Quads in a motherless womb, A perilous pregnancy which Could deliver us too soon, This life annulled as We slip from our skin. Seven years of training, Writing rules to a new world Until, through cataracts Of disbelief we see Oceans unfrozen and Dust grown leaves.
Terraforming, Kind global warming, To stir the seeds Within this Lazarus land, We dream their lives, Believe in the unimaginable, Resurrect what might have been. Twin moons light this heaven, Time both wax and wane. This land a ghostly battlefield Where crumbled meteorites Danced in crimson storms. A century from now our visors Will be lifted, our hands unsheathed And in the tremble of new skin touching An ordinary miracle will be born.
THE ROCK Keith McFarlane
I died as rock, I rose Viridian, I died as plant, my heart was beating, Again I died, and woke as human, Why then should I fear? When was I less by dying? Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, 1207-1273
I wake to fire, stone womb by sky-iron riven; earth-born, fire-shaped’s my parturition. Thrown up, air’s rush; my flight's an ark struck incandescent; and I am rising into silence. Cold absolute. My thoughts are glacial, buoyed up by nothingness, as bright perhaps as the lights far off, though fading, in an endless sleep of days and drifting. Companions there were, none spoke in parting, none speak, none speechless, nothing spoken; they dance, they turn, each mote is singing, each held by light, in light their being. Then fire. My body quickens; kindled, keening; spice on the tongue is the salt of my bleeding. My breath, long held, is stopped. First weight, then blackness.
I wake to landscape, sand-scape, whispers; to turn of sun and constellations, the touch of wind that grain on grainâ€™s eroding, the dry and water-ice fragmentary. Season on season are the ages of my being; within myself a slow-quick teeming, and I the taproot, holdfast, seed-case that journeyed far, held safe, now open. The sun-wind sleets alchemic ground; my spirals break; they coil, unwind; I die, I change, adapt, survive; extremophile as if designed, I name this desert habitat. Perhaps a billion years from now, one standing on this conscious ground, who sees the motes that passage world to world, might ask of me in whispered signs: How came you here? Are these your lights? Or mine?
AFTER YOU LEFT I WATCHED THE SUN GO DOWN Nick Allen after you left I watched the sun go down impatient of the hours intolerant of minutes I pull nights velvet robes around me delinquent moths carry no word of you as they haphazard through the bitter night air darting to elude the savage puppetry of bats moonlit clouds drift like ice floes like land over the ages creating new geographies above slumbered-down rooftops between chimney pots stars blink and I see them a million years ago with only memories of your warmth I await the return of my sun
THE MOON IS A FROZEN TENNIS BALL Nick Allen the moon is a frozen tennis ball lost on the great lawn the moon stands in the still pond and I swim the moon the moon plays the waters edge loosening and tightening the moon was birdsong worked on a hinge of ice the moon quarters and havers and I have no glue the moon was reached on a ladder of bones the moon is your gaze found in darkness the moon looks lost on the face of day
OUT HERE Lloyd Fletcher “Loneliness does not worry me; life is difficult enough, putting up with yourself and with your own habits” — Jorge Luis Borges If, on the other hand, I stretch my legs in front, feet braced to the glass limits that space allows, I sight myself as if along the barrels of a gun, and lie in wait for passing moons, regular as sideshow targets emerging from the shade of rings sparking off the sun. And flares recycling from a dozen daily mornings probe the confines of the cabin, punctuate my checking and rechecking of idle systems, glance from the rock walls of misshapen mountains adrift and bending to their own blind drudgery, until, with luck, some chaos nudges one into another, fracturing into new dimensions and plumes of ice. These are distractions enough to dull the routine warble and bleep of too many alarms and warnings. Or if I cannot sleep, and the tanks and pools don’t need to be fed, nor air pods tested for the umpteenth time, and there is nothing I care to write in a log no one will ever read, I can fill the window’s dome with my whole bent shape, a foetal crescent blotting out the stars and float with the radio pushed up load my head sealed in by the background hiss of the Big Bang’s endless noise.
SO LONG, EARTH Lloyd Fletcher Goodbye to my mother, mother of all mothers now dissolving to that pale blue dot in a backward glance at a Martian sky which I will steadily ignore, no doubt except where you haunt the mind’s eye, mother of all things missing from a red landscape: your great green entanglements shaped by the shifts and rifts of rock, the rainbow layers of the canyon, the microscopic grand cathedrals drained from a waterlogged heaven of mountain clouds that wax and wane, impervious to the episodes of organic holocaust, history’s subductions. Mother of the valiant spreading seed that finds its form in the depths of soil and lightning’s spark, or a ruthless sea’s edge. Mother of the virus, and microbes biding under ice, within the grain of trees and birdsong, and poisoned air. Mother of the parasites that drill the globe of the eye, and of sperm whales breeching the oil-laced surface of memory. Mother of the myths of spirit pioneers and their dust bowl, the crumbling concrete plain. Mother of our forgetting, our lost imaginings, our skyward longings. And mother of my regret, you icon of everything, long out of reach, hung in a cold alien sky.
Gram Joel Davis
TOWARDS UNDERSTANDING PERPETUITY (REGULARITY OF NORMALISED BEHAVIOUR) AND ABLUTION RITUALS OF FAMOUS PHYSICISTS Dawn Furness Every morning Max rose. Brushed his teeth, began his day. This is Planckâ€™s constant.
THE DAYS ARE SQUEEZED THE NIGHTS ARE LONG Moira Garland
The days are squeezed the nights are long. The trees bare of blackbirdâ€™s song. Squeeze and squeeze till solstice comes Then breathe out relief the sun, the sun will inch, and rise, let in its light, so much less of darkest night.
THE DRAKE EQUATION (EXPECTANT MODIFICATION) Dawn Furness Attraction is a Universal Constant. Bodies gravitate towards each other...every second...every minute... Dancing. Equal, and opposite, forces. Energy spiralling towards violent collapse. Inevitable implosion. Then Creation! But, some bodies, on the outside, are left...floating in space..................... Loneliness, too, is a Universal Constant. Anywhere and everywhere. Permeating the fabric of spacetime as the absence of attraction. Dark matter-of-fact. Frank equated the probability of intelligent life in the Universe. My modification is more noble. To estimate the probability of intelligent life inside of me;
N = R*fdnffcfpfbL where: N = the number of people in the world with which communion might be possible and R* = the average rate of relationship formation in normal human bonding fd = the fraction of those relationships that succeed beyond a first date nf = the average number of relationships that lead to a continuous sexual relationship fc = the fraction of relationships that are capable of conceiving fp = the fraction of relationships that instigate a pregnancy fb = the fraction of relationships that produce a baby L = the length of time such relationships can take place within a limited fertility window and before we die and turn to dust, having briefly realised the futility of our own existence This is what I lie awake thinking about at night...
METEOR SHOWER Becky Cherriman We like to join the dots, create constellations when really there are only stars and the void between, that devastating dark wave. Occasionally, there are meteors, skin cells of comets alight, for a moment, across our skies. We like to join the dots, create constellations, map meteors like child-arced spirographs, memories in torsion of galaxies lost to the devastating dark wave. They streak our singular past across the night
and we make wishes on them for the new year; we like to join the dots, create constellations. Say one of them escapes its orbit, determines a different trajectory – my child hand used to slip – a devastating dark wave. Now, standing by the ocean in the wake of childhood’s storm, we join the dots, create constellations – one devastating dark wave.
THE RAVEN Leila Hussein To know thyself witness the stars. The raven. Charcoal The dustÂ All of time moves through us, reduces us to this. An ocean can penetrate wounds,Â through alchemy, what was once left here now sparkles; is not debris.
HALLELUJAH Leila Hussein I wept by the side of the ocean. The sea said, to let every drop fall in; that is how it gets clean. I felt each grain of a sandstorm touch my face Now the desert said, let yourself feel each cut; it is the magic of winds. I stared at the starry night skies, saw one shooting star after another. I asked the Earth for a wish. It said you already have it my child. Your life. You are here. This is it.
MY FAITH IN A GOD M.F. Biegler is ruined. The whorls of your thumb-once something I could trace, hold, memorize-pass me by now in infrequent handshakes. Etchable galaxy spirals encrypted in the hands that carried, carry me. I know I would settle into you. The moment we are close enough, we snap to-planetary bodies falling into orbit. I follow you now, sometimes, but your shadow is cold. Somehow I could never fulfill you. It all warped, sunk into nothingness. A black hole of emotion. Space is meant to beautiful. My faith in a god is ruined.
NIGHT HERE Nick Allen night here is absolute a dark solemnity holding everything fast admitting of no such thing as day the stab points of stars scatter heaven like spilled sugar and the moon when she comes is glorious the white and formal light thin but insistent pushes darkness into corners and under the edges of things and presses my fugitive shadow hard against the wall
REMEDIOS VAROS PAINTS Susan Taylor Remedios paints the measure of a dream. She paints it into the forest; an armillary constructed purely of light, a hovering astrolabe, unearthly as the gasping stars. She paints in a tower inhabited by two of her starwatchers distinct in the background, but the foreground is what is holding their eyes. They reconnoitre with a waxing gibbous moon on the lake while waning sun, out or their sightline is held up like an apple rose tinted in bare boughs. Remedios is painting bright bridleways she hangs over the water, chalky and luminous and circular as desire. They are spinning slowly on one axis, in time with the turning of planets magnetic as cosmos flowers to night flying eyes of winged things out and about in her paintbrush. From its shivering dance comes a map of untameable worlds and art, of course, art brings the unknown close. Here is a vision bold enough to conquer the stranglehold of time, spinning the kind of enlightenment her watchers absorb through their skins. Solutions to problems tumble from them in waves of a new language Remedios paints onto their tongues. Here is the creative spark, the hunger for renewal.
PLUTO Patrick Wright When sleeplessness comes I take myself to Pluto. Out of body I soar to that ice planet surface. To escape the day, dumb circuits of thought, I go to Charon’s limb – curtains drawn, lights off, an intrepid astronaut. To switch myself off, I warp to Nix, Styx, Kerberos the dog. Or I teleport, pineal eye, out of the bedroom – superluminal, shun the moon, reach solitude. I slip to an underworld, remote. I survey the tundra, stalagmites, hexagons of ice, mirror-like planes, a vast plateau. Above me, a star field on Cthulhu Regio (‘the whale’), dragon scales, the dark side of a dwarf. Weightless, almost. I’ve landed though lost, visor fogged. Under lids, I wish for airlessness, to freeze instantaneous, crack like a rose frozen in a Petri dish. Behind me, no spaceship. I suffer the cortisol, thoughts of her, not waking up. Down the duvet, my legs sculpt a landscape, fold chasms and peaks. Exposed, reds, pinks, tholins, face a heart-shape. I turn and turn like the six-hour day, going over nodes – mother, father, lover, those spurned or now silent. No escaping my orbit, my barycentre of regret, gyring round this hub – and this is death, this is death: the mind whirs on.
FREED FROM DISTANCE Barry Patterson Lost airs may not be breathed again; Prehistoric wind screams from the sand grain A voice unheard save only by imagination’s ear That is to say, the physical moment is long gone But there is a light which shone, which shines Upon every surface, knows & was known By every moment of movement, every memory, Morning woke, translucent, always primal But reflected innocent everywhere And not an atom-instant of awareness Does not beam forth save it is known by this; Nothing is ever lost, the unique scent Of the infinite present illuminates us all. & you & I my dear seem small So far apart in our respective worlds But together our suns’ volatiles will feed new earth-crusts Where the storm wheel of life will turn again Tides will revolve, seasons expand & contract Hearts & thought gestures turn towards the inexpressible Journey from mind to mind; shared nature’s Desert crossing, accomplished in an instant, The strange attractor way-star’s gravity Draws us together, freed from distance. A kiss across an abyss cannot be, But an abyss understood becomes a kiss.
SOMME 2012 Rebecca Gethin Sliding through the dark, stars watch from among the topmost twigs in the wood. A barn owl shrieks from a tree as if the moon gave tongue, the creatures of night hunting me down. Wood anemones glow like bare skin. If I make a move the moon may flay the night with its soundless wingbeats, eyes scanning the ground for prey, talons poised to strip it to bone. The landscape is on the alert; it listens to my tread like a tunneller with his geophone â€“ first one ear, then the other â€“ calculating distance and direction as to when my nervous footfall might land on the unexploded shell.
YEMEN TOWER Antony Owen We could be seen for miles burning Yet no one saw us except the constant Mir Goodnight Britain, our children are hags of sulphur We could be heard for miles like heretics of brick and mortar No one saw us except the men who covered their noses but not their eyes. If we were in Grenfell would you see us? Would all the satellites refute the cold grey stars? Would everything up there have happened yesterday or now? You could be seen by the Gods freezing as you contemplated our hides.
SUPERMOON TRILOGY (3RD DECEMBER 2017 TO 31ST JANUARY 2018) Peter A. Kelly is it ominously awesome, this repeated perigee? uncommon perhaps but purely astronomical? signifying foreboding or even miracle? spanning the death of one year of the next its birth though how often this on earth occurs I do not know or even pretend to begin to know so is it history? a supermoon once then a supermoon twice the moon appearing of extra size during the bimester thrice seeming to grow with fulsome lucence in winter skies spell-casting her fluence over Advent, Hanukkah, Solstice and Christmas, visiting the New Year a wolf supermoon rampant before and blue blood supermoon rising far beyond the Epiphany so does it a mystery disclose that when revisiting she with constant hypnotic glows upstages pyrotechnic show-off meteor shower shows? instead of seeking portents in the sky which some would label lunacy let us for now declare in time of gloom enlightenment is truly rare be it mind or heart or supermoon, welcome every steady beam.
WONDER Rona Fitzgerald On Easter island we watched the sun fall into the pacific our eyes curving as the planet turned constellations blinked, winked at us in a magenta sky stars threaded through purple beads, tiny pearls snow drops in parched soil soul lanterns on the Ganges.
As the Moai stand sentinels from another world. Familiar Venus
Jupiter calling down mythology maybe an exomoon our solar system.
Glowing with light
energy we can barely imagine. my mind unable
to map the extraordinary.
WARREN FIELDS Mica Hind
It always feels strange to come back here, perched on the lip of the land. To know that I grew up the way from this place. Twelve meagre pits, just dirt in dirt, and nothing to see, on the surface. They say its mankind's oldest calendar, ten thousand years, lurking in the land unfound. The Grampians are ancient, oldest of hills. Even when the white-walls first receded, revealing the scrub-scoured granite, melt-water purging and purifying all, sating the giant elk, bear and boar, salivatory runs, red soil, black bogs, those mountains were here. Antediluvian ascents, across which Mesolithic Man would move and hunt, and watch the stars.
The same stars I see now, there's nothing like them, there's no way to explain to the city-born and the town bound, that feeling of coming home, when the amber ever-glow from Aberdeen to Glasgow, recedes and is gone. Look at a shot from a satellite, a map of the Earth at night, and you'll see cartographical constellations, the galaxy reflected, all the kingdom aglow, but for a tiny tic, the smallest speck, in the true North pure darkness reigns.
THE VISIBLE HORIZON Deborah Harvey Street lights have thrown their grubby dust sheets over the sky If I could only see the stars Iâ€™d make my way to some dark hill where they tumble headlong to the ground, tracing my journey by their braille like a manx shearwater or a dung beetle toiling through the dirt me and my dung ball rolling along
4 2 γ ν 3
Martin Hardcastle From the first light in timeless flight you came, To fill the empty spaces in the sky: You feel the slow inexorable growth Of all around you as it passes by, -Then You alone meet A tiny target -A clash of frames: Now go, transformed, The others left behind: Is this death, or life?
WRONG LANE Rona Fitzgerald Dog eared moon over daytime Clydebank clear sky, warm sun on my car window slow lane, at home on the planet. My mind hitched a ride on the Milky Way faster than light, spinning in burnt out stars, looking for multiverses finding a galaxy where I spin and spin infinite versions of myself, ageing I wanted to call out, to greet them to warn them. But my arm turned a whirling dervish or Shivaâ€™s golden limbs of many angles. I close my eyes A horn blares behind me Iâ€™m back, stalled at a green light happy to be back on firm ground.
CONSTELLATION Rebecca Gethin Orion gestures a stride over our heads. No body attached. I watch him from the car window. We never get any closer. His legs are braced apart, one elbow bent to pull back the bow string, the other arm outstretched. The arrow is set to fly but he never lets go. All I see is his belt, the rest of him hidden by moonlight or cloud but he’s there, poised and ready. That row of three stars holds us together.
GIRLS CAN’T DO PHYSICS...? Dawn Furness Girls can’t do math! He jeered and laughed As he questioned her judgement from the lake to the path... And Boys can't float She said with a gloat As she pushed him, laughing, from the boat!
SEEING RED Deborah Harvey He describes how he perceives a sunset What people tell me is crimson I see as charcoal grey a shadow on the horizon Crimson’s possibly not quite right I think and of course that’s the point His poems consider patterns in snowflakes fractals in cantilevered branches, they sit at the window like Whistler’s mother understand the mechanics of stars travel distances mine can’t begin to imagine being distracted by sea green lichen emerald moss, a single rusting autumn leaf
THE SONS OF PERSEUS Nick Allen its dark you sleep we dream the night you breathe I hear the grind of rock on space thin blade skims ice meteors scratch our limits and pass the trail they leave quick silver bright moment and still you sleep we dream
A STARGAZER AT THE COIN-OPERATED TELESCOPE Rebecca Bilkau Wrong-ending the focus tube shrank his favourite star, his bright bee humming in the sky's icy orchard, to a fleck. For all its vibrancy, it might after all be long gone. Those densely written reports he tried to read, and never understood, didn’t hold with eternal light. He stretched to close his beloved’s eyes — honouring the dead was a knack he did have. The lens filled with his own hand. He saw it, his whole self, as if from his star: diminished, daft but ripe for one vast voyage, launched from the grey pad of Llandudno prom. When his quid ran out and the glass blacked, the rheum in his eye was honey, and his star resurrected, beaconing him through the waves to its everlasting hive.
OF MEN AND STARS, SCIENCE AND SUCH Mohammed Basith Awan Sometimes, at night, I look upon the firmament in wonder; At the tapestries of stars that my mind can’t count; That my gaze lies under. Spiral arms extend from elusive, Supermassive black holes, And hold all in their thrall. The heavens shine across the entire electromagnetic spectrum, They sing in all their splendour, As our telescopes point upwards, Our minds must remain open, As we look outwards and search for new truths. The search takes place on two planes, The ephemeral, infinite expanse that’s theoretical; Purely mathematical, Where the patterns of nature are but an abstraction, And rules are purely the rules that we make true by axiom; A mere a priori philosophical convention. As for the other, experiment, It lies in reality; The plain obvious, extended and rendered in an unusual way. When placed and examined in the right light, Can either serve to confirm or destroy what is posited by theory, Or open avenues hitherto unknown. Science is the ultimate human endeavour, A thread which weaves right through the cloth of civilization, Emerging at it’s head as crown to art’s flower. It serves to empower man, As it’s applied by engineers to make the earth contort to our will.
Many do it for many reasons, Some out of pure curiosity, Some for atheistic self-grandeur, Some for the Glory of God, And herein lies part of its’ manifold beauty, All are accepted in it’s ranks. Let us for a moment examine our condition, And remember the adage, That with knowledge lies power, And with power comes responsibility. Let not our quest for truth and understanding Turn us into tyrants on the Earth upon which we stand, The oceans in which we swim, And the heavens in which we soar. Let our knowledge extend to mercy, And let us stand tall as we look to the stars, So perchance when others discover us, They’ll be impressed with our humanity, Not fear it’s recklessness, Nor pity us as the cancer of the earth. Then perhaps we will truly embody, The nobility that we all store as potential, So our worth, Shines out into the cosmos, Just as her light shines into us.
STRANDING Rebecca Gethin The tide won’t take back the death it brought, its last waves skittering about, as if to fibrillate its ton of failing heart beat. On shore, the sea, made flesh, expires. Brought into the air her sheen dries out. She has been lacerated, an eye damaged. She can’t extend the pleats of her throat or open wide her mouth to sift krill to feed herself. She can’t breach, arc her back, spout like a geyser, dive as far as 200 metres. She once felt infrasonic sounds along her skin, now water’s inner space echoes her silence. The sea’s molecules don’t forget their own. Every night the dark creeps out of the land floods over the waters; every day the light dies last in the sea. The stars of Cetus are faint.
THE ASTRONAUT Barry Patterson The astronaut's grandfather worked the land with horses & taught the boy to keep his feet on the ground & to work hard He was just a homesteader on the plains of Wisconsin but he paid for the kid to go to school: Al became an engineer, a pilot, a poet & he flew all the way to the moon Which is still hard for many people to believe & difficult for most of us to imagine: "So much for keeping your feet upon the ground, boy!" the old man might have said, As he tightened a jingling leather harness, of such good design that it had hardly changed since the age of chariots. & the astronaut sat in the lonely capsule, & he took one of those glorious photos of the distant earth Not full or waning gibbous but an awesome crescent, incandescent with clouded life Nothing like the sky-sickle of the moon, which we see, but fully charged with life force, precisely huge, sharp beyond belief & it caught his breath remembering that in there some farm boy was riding his horse over the grassy plain, Thinking about his girlfriend, about what he had for dinner yesterday, wondering what to do with his life; That this amulet which he had just touched with his finger-lens was a peopled world, her cities roaring with life-colour, Forests singing green chaos; river deltas teeming with abundance flow, snow-mountains, prairies & the sea
Even something as vast as the sea, was just the fizzing rind of this bluewhite cosmic berry. Later, as they spun into strange trajectories upon their carefully measured angle of departure, He pushed himself free from the hatch & floated into interplanetary space, the first man ever to swim so far from home Witness: the Earth & Moon in the same field of vision, bathed in starlight so intense that you could hardly see & this was an important moment in the living history of the Universe becoming aware of itself Which you may choose to doubt, but it seems as if there is a certain inevitability to it, whether or not we survive & it happens every time a little kid turns over a stone to witness new life-forms, or finds their first fossil; Spots an eclipse that no-one else on the school bus had noticed, discovers that Saturn's rings are real, Or sits, glued to the television for the latest message, the latest image from the Other World; The ancient outer world of vastness, the thundering extreme of temperature & terror that is our home. & that brings me into the picture, that's me there, see? I'm in that photograph, in this poem & so are you & you & you; we all are, spinning vectors on the Fibonacci spiral of deja vu & again & again & again Yes, there we are, the people of the awesome Scythe Blade Earth, tiny but not insignificant.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to thank a lot of people who have supported me throughout this project including both of my PhD supervisors, the members of my department who have provided encouragement and got involved, and the friends and fellow scientists, artists, poets and creatives who have supported the project. Of course, I would also like to thank everyone who has submitted work, because without it, there would be no magazine. Also, I would like to thank the Unsplash community of photographers and makers for providing much of the high quality, free-use imagery that I have unintentionally ended up drawing heavily from for the design of this issue. I would also like to acknowledge NASA and the European Space Agency for providing astronomical and earth observation images within the public domain, and also the LIGO consortium. I have used VLA observations of Cygnus A. There are other resources I have utilised, such as both Wikimedia Commons and the Public Domain Review. I have attempted to keep all resource usage within Fair Use policies presented by the artwork creators. However, if anyone should disagree please let me know and I would be more than happy to remove any disputed content. Finally, thank you for reading this publication, and supporting myself and all the writers, artists and creatives contained within it. I hope you enjoyed reading it; I loved creating it. Maya Horton Editor, Until the Stars Burn Out September 2018
"Until the Stars Burn Out" is a new arts and poetry magazine devoted to exploring diverse views of the universe that surrounds us.