SDO Opens its Eyes

23 04 2010

                                                                                                                                                                                                           First Light…

And at last, the secret of our solar system’s star has been revealed:

Concealed beneath its brightly shimmering, ever-shifting shells

Of ancient hydrogen a mighty dragon lies; planet-sized

Eyes flashing with photon fire, riding the great plasma tides

Boiling up from Sol’s deep core, it roars in raw delight,

Feeding on the brutal fusion light throbbing beneath its feet…

Hiding in the Sun’s dark heart it bathes in nuclear fire,

Revelling in its fury, rolling in it, each beat of its wings

Sending great waves of energy slamming up into the

Chromosphere to ripple and roil across Sol’s surface

In tsunamis of atomic fire, to the amazement of those watching,

Wide-eyed, on Faraday’s far-away Earth…

But these images reveal the dragon is not alone;

The Sun’s firestorm fields clearly have shielded

Our prying eyes from flocks of phoenixes flying

In the dragon’s wake. Each time a starfirebird bursts

Through the seething surface of our star we see

A glorious prominence leaping into space;

Every feathered, towering arch traces out the path

Of a phoenix’s graceful rise and fall.

Each time one manages to break free

Of the Sun’s greedy gravity we see a

Fiery red banner billow out, tatter and tear,

Flapping away like it had never been there…

© Stuart Atkinson 2010

New Blue

17 04 2010

                                                                                                                                                                                                             The sky was blue today.

Not blue and white, not cross-hatched

With car scratch lines of B.A and

Virgin vapour but blue, a pure,

Perfect blue, the innocent blue children use

When painting the sea; the blue

You see in just-cleaned pet shop fish tanks,

Or bottles of mouth wash or anti-freeze.

No planes flew overhead today.

Afraid of the ash, all are resting, parked up

Instead of ploughing through the lower

Atmosphere, leaving the sky scrubbed

Clean of all the garish grafitti

We usually draw upon it with

Our Airbus- and Jumbo-sized marker pens.

No engine sounds reached the ground today;

No sunlit was seen glinting

From far away, fuel-filled wings;

Just a few lonely clouds drifted here

And there; sky sheep grazing

In their blue grass field.

No metal soared overhead today,

Just birds, puzzled, confused

By the sudden absence of Man’s machines

From their lofty lands.

Just sky.

Just sky.

Just sky…

© Stuart Atkinson 2010


7 04 2010


Revised and illustrated to thank Prof. Brian Cox for opening the eyes of millions to the beauty of the universe, through his TV series “Wonders of The Solar System”…

(please click to enlarge the image below to make it readable)


We are not warm,

Like your soft-lapping lakes;

If Hades was a frozen wasteland

This shivering satellite of ours would be

Its Hell. Colder than a coffin, darker

Than a blind man’s nightmare,

Orbiting but forbidden to ever see

The brilliant, ringed glory

Of its mother, our home is a wilderness

Not even Muir could learn to love.

We come and go, first filling slowly

When heaven rips open and rain

Vomits violently from the sky;

Long-dry rivers come alive again,

Full to the brim of tholin soup

That slops downhill and spills into us,

Bringing us back to life.

But even as we are born we are dying,

Evaporating away, bleeding up into the sky,

Withering and drying where we stand,

Doomed to be reduced to mere dark stains

Upon the ground until the thunder booms again.

Until we die we move, as do your

Wind-rippled Windermeres and Michigans,

But the slap-slapping of our waves is ponderous;

Like slimy dough they fold themselves

Over and over  before defiantly crawling skywards

Only to surrender and sink back again,

Groaning with their own weight.

But no splash as they fall,

Just a low groaning moan as they’re dragged

Beneath the rain-speckled surface again.


Having found us, at last, after all

Your centuries of wondering you celebrated,

Slapping backs as the grainy radar swathes

Revealed us in all our black-and-grey stain beauty:

Blurry tumours on x-rays of Titan’s pole.

But if you – who are more used to Terra’s blue-

Reflecting plates of fish-fat, thawed

Comet water – were to actually stand on our shores

Your eyes would widen not with delight

But fright, for having trickled from Titan’s

Bruised orange sky to lie like spills of

Silage we puddles of methane and ethane murk

Are dank, and dark as mud mixed with blood.

No beauty here, no picture postcard views.

We are molasses to your wine;

Thick ichor pools swallowed by hollows

And craters that cover this vast frigid land like sores

On the hand of a leper.

But, even knowing that, one day you’ll fly here

And, in your tholin rain-stained spacesuits,

Tiptoe to our shores and wade out into us,

Thrilling to the feel of our icy floors cracking

Beneath your booted feet.

And even though it will be hidden from your

Ever-hopeful eyes in your mind

You’ll still see mighty Saturn looming overhead,

Rings tilted impossibly wide

Open: Titan’s tarry sky a painting by

A cosmic Michelangelo…

© Stuart Atkinson 2006