The Star Gazers' Tales by Andrew Mowbray
On a whim, from time to time,
I get the urge to write in rhyme.
In case you're wondering where this is leading,
The Canterbury Tales I've been reading.
If Chaucer was alive today,
I wonder what his tales would say,
on the subject of astronomy?
Read below and we shall see.
In autumn time as evenings darken,
the call to go stargazing does harken.
Once the fiery Perseids have gone,
and darker evenings do draw on.
As the Autumn Equinox draws near,
some look forward to this time of year,
when nights grow dark and shadows lengthen.
In astro folk the urge does strengthen,
to escape civilisation's baleful glow.
On journeys to far Norfolk they must go.
A campsite not far from that distant coast,
called Kelling Heath will be their host.
They choose the time of Dark of Moon.
Those fleeting nights which pass too soon.
When Selene's crescent sets with the Sun,
Kelling's Autumn Star Party has begun.
The red field is the place to be.
There no lights will you see.
Except dim ones in the darkest red,
which some folk wear upon their head.
If any one should break this rule,
they will be made to feel a fool,
Across the camp out goes the shout,
"Oi you! Put that light out!"
During the day there are tours and talks
or off on nature trails some take walks.
Post lunch lectures are given by an expert,
who does his best to keep the crowd alert.
The audience awake he must keep,
and stop them sliding off to sleep.
The Club House provides food and beer
and the company meet here with good cheer,
to eat healthy burgers and drink ale
and tell each other their starry tale.
The Visual Observer's Tale
Some folk like to stand and stare,
up into the heavens, bright and fair.
For the nights observing they must prepare,
with thick coats and thermal underwear.
When the night is cold and dark and clear,
Nature's night time wonders do appear.
The Milky Way is a precious silver river,
to contemplate it causes you to shiver.
It dust lanes split and recombine,
dark patches where the stars can't shine.
Cygnus the Swan flies overhead,
to greet those who aren't in bed.
Great Bear low and Cassiopeia high,
do their nightly circuit about the sky.
Perseus and Andromeda pursue their heavenly love
and Pegasus the winged horse flies by high above.
Andromeda's great misty galaxy rides on high.
The furthest thing visible with the naked eye.
Mighty Hercules his strength does show
with his star cluster all fiercely aglow.
A bunch of Messier's nebulae do cast their lot,
near faint Ophiuchus whom ancient mages forgot.
Wild duck, eagle, lagoon and trifid are found,
in the west sinking towards the ground.
Finally those still awake in the early morn,
see the stars of Winter before the dawn.
Mighty Orion rising low in the East,
forever hoping to catch the beast
called Taurus, the mighty bull,
its eye Aldebaran watching all.
The Pleiades are sparkling bright,
seven sisters, a jewel box in the night.
Meanwhile down on the ground,
many telescopes are to be found.
Some find objects for you in the sky,
saving time as the night goes by.
Motors whir to counter the pace,
of that ever running sidereal race.
Others think technology does too much
and still prefer to use the manual touch.
They plan their night all through the day
and use chart and star hop to find their prey.
One good lad has a monster dob,
which can see the faintest fuzzy blob,
from far off across the Universe.
Light older than man's time on Earth.
Observing by eye as we have done the longest.
For all the urge to just look up, the strongest.
The Astro Imager's Tale
Some folk are not content,
to just gaze upon the firmament.
Instead they must record for all to see,
the image of some distant galaxy,
or nebula, dust cloud or faint star cluster,
using all the technology they can muster.
Computer, auto guide scope and CCD,
devices which to many are a mystery.
The image they will expose for many hours,
hoping not for cloud or sudden showers.
A sudden curse may ring out in the night
when they find it's not aligned quite right.
The stars are not points, but trails
and all the objects have blurry tails.
They won't know this until after the event.
It doesn't cause them much merriment.
So they go off and find their cheer,
in glasses of good Norfolk beer.
Other imagers are a simpler breed.
A laptop and web cam is all they need.
They attach the web cam to their scope
and point it heavenward full of hope.
Their target must be something bright.
The Moon or a planet shining in the night.
A short movie of a thousand frames,
should be enough to meet their aims.
Then on the PC these images they must stack.
It is a lengthy process and tough to crack.
But if they get all the settings done just right.
The blurry images changes to a planet bright.
The Sky Sketcher's Tale
Another part of our merry band,
are those who draw the sky by hand.
Not for them the complexity,
of laptop, wire and CCD.
With pencils sharp and rubber near.
They sketch the sky whilst it is clear.
Finding this way is a jolly caper,
of committing the fine night sky to paper.
They really find it quite a lark,
to try and draw things in the dark.
Some just record it as a chart.
Others produce real works of art.
A picture there for all to see,
of photographic quality.
The Poor Man's Tale
Some will observe quite contented,
in a way that looks quite demented.
Laying on a sun lounger in the night,
could give the unwary quite a fright,
but is really is just a relaxing way,
of cheaply scanning the Milky Way.
The mark one eyeball or a pair of bins.
Give these observers smiles and grins.
They really do find it weird and funny,
that others observe by spending money.
A simple refractor is all these folk need,
to see in the sky some fine sites indeed.
Cheap gotos that take hours to align,
but to this task they must resign.
Drive gearing that is made of cheese,
does its best to try and please.
For whilst their optics aren't the best.
They are willing in their time to invest,
to make the most of what they've got,
using a little to achieve a lot.
The Rich Man's Tale
The field has an end where rich men go.
It's known to all as Millionaires' Row.
Here the scopes are fine and handsome.
So should they be, they cost a ransom!
Whether they see more, who can tell?
That bit is lost amongst the hard sell.
Some have an unpronounceable name,
that is part of this aperture game.
Still their owners' have the generosity,
to share their scopes with all to see.
How wonderfully the sky can please,
when viewed through optics such as these.
All our players will agree,
with every type of certainty.
That clear skies are desired by all,
and not for visibility to fall.
Forecasts are carefully watched all day to see,
if that night's weather will lose its mystery.
Sometimes nature causes us to remember,
we are in North Norfolk in September.
The starry objects all start to dim
and the seeing does become quite grim.
The gentle dew down then does fall,
covering the glass of one and all,
and then a mighty chorus does begin.
A hundred hairdryers make quite a din.
Something else that's less than nice,
is when that dew turns to ice.
Trying to remove that rime,
can lead to a rather trying time.
The one thing all there fear the most
is when the weather comes off the coast.
Delicate fingers of mist and fog in do creep
and make us think "It's time for sleep."
When the dark storm clouds roll in,
out come the liners from a bin.
To cover up that precious gear,
then watch the sky in hope and fear.
Some play at Astro Monopoly,
hoping to get out of jail scot free.
Others take the chance instead,
to lay down and rest their weary head.
If the weather's mood sleep does prolong
and the wind blows outside fierce and strong.
When over, some will wake to see the Milky Way,
but only because the wind their tent has blown away.
When the wind is from the East,
that's the time we like the least.
An icy cold blast it is, and lazy too.
Never goes round, it just goes straight through!
Finally the black sky turns to grey,
to greet the dawn of camp's last day
The morn's avian chorus does begin,
the promise of another day to bring.
When weary star gazers want their bed,
they have to pack up and go home instead.
To their abodes one hope they'll bring,
that they can do it all again next Spring!