The Necklace Nebula
Credit & Copyright: Romano Corradi (IAC), et al., IPHAS
Explanation: The small constellation Sagitta sports this large piece of cosmic jewelry, dubbed the Necklace Nebula. The newly discovered example of a ring-shaped planetary nebula is about 15,000 light-years distant. Its bright ring with pearls of glowing gas is half a light-year across. Planetary nebulae are created by sun-like stars in a final phase of stellar evolution. But the Necklace Nebula's central star, near the center of a ring strongly tilted to our line of sight, has also been shown to be binary, a close system of two stars with an orbital period of just over a day. Astronomers estimating the apparent age of the ring to be around 5,000 years, also find more distant gas clouds perpendicular to the ring plane, seen here at the upper left and lower right. Those clouds were likely ejected about 5,000 years before the clouds forming the necklace. This false color image combines emission from ionized hydrogen in blue, oxygen in green, and nitrogen in red.
"Grace means more than gifts. In grace something is transcended, once and for all overcome. Grace happens in spite of something; it happens in spite of separateness and alienation. Grace means that life is once again united with life, self is reconciled with self. Grace means accepting the abandoned one. Grace transforms fate into a meaningful vocation. It transforms guilt to trust and courage. The word grace has something triumphant in it." - Yrjo Kallinen
"Sometimes our fate resembles a fruit tree in winter. Who would think that those branches would turn green again and blossom, but we hope it, we know it." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
"... everything in nature is lyrical in its ideal essence, tragic in its fate, and comic in its existence." - George Santayana
"Ideals are like stars: you will not succeed in touching them with your hands, but like the seafaring man on the desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and following them you reach your destiny." - Carl Schurz
Surely this poem of mine is true for somebody. It is too deeply true not to latch onto reality somewhere. When something like this little gem comes my faith is renewed in something like channeling. I am sure this thing was floating around full grown just like this waiting for someone to love it enough to give it birth. It is worth a prayer of gratitude. It is worth a caress.
It is worth a whole life committed to the stars, to sailing in between the stars, to going beyond all chance of return. Poems are passages and journeys and changes. Beneath the story line lurks the power that presses us and the deep love we hope for. Within the story is a woven wand stiffened with the rhythm and the dream like you said it should be. Grasp hold, and so it is that the water flows and the light shivers and glows and I can't take my eyes off of you, can't, no cannot take my eyes off of you. My mind, my heart, my soul. You. That's why I became an astronaut.
Why I Became An Astronaut
I snuck around, peered
at you through the hedge and watched
as you pointed up,
pointed to the sky
as if you owned it, whispered
to one another
as you lay gazing
at the stars and I had to
run home, my heart sore.
August 29, 2009 2:33 PM