He watched the moon
Pass across its face
Existing freely in space for a moment, far above the Earth’s surface
He saw another shot at life;

But you let those forces perturb you
Sapping your energy
Disrupting the firmament
The noise and the confusion were just too much!

The world was never good enough
Maybe a privileged fabrication
For the rich detritus of a troubled history
Merely obscured and blunted raw edges beneath

You never stood a chance
Though you emerge from shadow
When what is forged through stress and torment
Can disperse again just so easily;

The shadow world crossed the limb
Returning to the deep black beyond
Revealing once again the turbulent wake
Of silent storms and transitory forms;

The realisation came, that this lonely spectacle
Just needed to be seen.

Inspired by watching transits of Jupiter’s moons across its stormy face through my telescope many years ago, the distant worlds revealed only by their perceptible perfect black shadow discs gliding over the cloud-tops…seen during fleeting glimpses of clarity through the watery turbulence of Earth’s own atmosphere.

Interestingly, I was listening to Green Day’s American Idiot album at the time whilst doing astronomy as it really appealed to me with its journeying and story-telling style, which seemed to go perfectly with the experience of exploring vast, dynamic alien worlds; the feeling of crossing such huge distances with the power of a telescope. Jesus Of Suburbia in particular containing similar themes is indelibly linked to these transit experiences. It’s amazing to have such associations. Other strongly-associated songs from the same album are: Are We The Waiting, Homecoming.


6 thoughts on “Transitory

  1. Ah, this takes me back. I used to love to spend quiet nights in the backyard with my Meade 12″. Dobsonian mount the same as yours.
    Quiet that is except for the hair dryer I used to use to moderate the temperature of the mirror.
    I used to like to take the eyepiece out and shoot digital afocal snaps of Jupiter and then colour correct the images to reveal the detail denied the naked eye. Other than the planets, the Jewel Box and M42 were my favourite Southern sky interstellar travel destinations. Fun times.
    Thank you for a wonderful poem artfully penned and also for a pleasant trip down memory lane. And a beautiful stable shot of the Galilean Jovian moons to boot.


    1. No way you’re kidding me!! What were the odds someone reading this had done similar?

      Meade telescopes I am very familiar with from all the researching and magazine reading and forum stuff ( I used to do, haha. A 12 inch would’ve been amazing! Was it an open truss design? I would guess so if you were using a hair dryer!

      I never knew about the afocal technique but that makes complete sense. I was just holding cameras up to the eyepiece manuallyβ€” first a camera phone (2004) and later a digital camera (2007). Plenty of moving parts and vibrations so any time I got a good image was amazing!

      I remember the first time I saw M42. All deep sky objects appeared in black and white except this one, which was a distinct blue-green to me. Yet I never found anybody else describing M42 as visible in colour! I have always found this weird, but for me it was spectacular. The colour was totally unexpected to me. This was with an 8 inch telescope so I imagine a 12 inch would show it up more. How did it appear to you?

      One of my most memorable moments was looking at the whirlpool galaxy which was almost directly overhead at the time. Very difficult to find it but once I did…glimpsing those spiral arms at the edges of vision was profound!


      1. You’re absolutely right, it is an open truss tube, with a thermal coat for when the air is particularly cold or moist, and its also still in fine condition in terms of thread wear and the smooth operation of the bearing plate even after more than ten years.

        I also used to play around with the afocal technique taking photos of flowers with a sports/hunters spotting scope. Such fun.

        As for colour, I have a mild form of inconsistent synaesthesia which tends to present me false information. I see colour where there is none to detect. What I know should appear as white light my mind interprets as invested with a sort of shifting prismatic colour effect. Which mild aberration presumably makes the world a mildly prettier place I suppose.

        Most of all I spent a lot of time much closer to home on our moon, idly identifying craters by name and seeking the landing/crash sites marking our tentative first steps towards perhaps becoming a space faring species.

        I invested in a fair sized mirror with the intention of gazing as far as I might but I found the instrument came into its own most when observing well within its reach. And the qualitative leap between the reflector and my little old 4.5″ GE mounted refractor was quite stunning. I would travel far and deep but my journey home always ended with a leisurely stroll amongst Selene’s’ craters before packing up.

        And may I say, what a happy thing it is to talk scientific instruments and the pleasures of active curiosity. Thank you.


      2. That’s interesting about the synaesthesia especially in the context of astronomy. I found my over-sensitive peripheral vision to be very very helpful.

        The moon was mind-blowing too! It’s amazing how overlooked and taken for granted it often is. At the same time, when you’re into astronomy you realise what a menace it is for light-pollution, lol. Sometimes it was a convenient excuse not to bother getting the scope out :).

        I went straight from binoculars into 8 inch scope, lol. Let me tell you that was a bit of a jump! The months I spent sick with anticipation whilst saving up with my weekend job…


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