How the government shut-down took my stars away

News about the government shut-down flames on, day-in, day-out. And so it should: Lives are under siege and, though it sounds hyperbolic to say, the advance of civilization as we know it has stumbled to a halt and our government has crumpled to its knees.

I will tell you about my small grief: NASA’s Astronomical Photograph of the Day ( service has shut down and is defunct. I often look at the site to marvel at the photographs and read about our fellow planets with whom we circle the sun, the fly-by asteroids in our galactic neighborhood, and the stars that populate our night skies (though only occasionally seen here in cloudy Seattle).

In memory of the amazing and truly extraordinary APOD website, and with the hope that it will be resurrected very shortly, I offer this photo of the Pleides (from National Geographic) and this poem (Country Stars by William Meredith).

I ask that the wisdom of the universe, always available to us in one form or another whether mathematical or mysterious, inform the thinking of our elected officials as they forge ahead with all of our lives in the balance.


Click the photo to see a larger version of the Pleides–the seven starry sisters that brighten the night sky with their beauty.

Country Stars

by William Meredith

The nearsighted child has taken off her glasses

and come downstairs to be kissed goodnight.

She blows on a black windowpane until it’s white.

Over the apple trees a great bear passes

but she puts her own construction on the night.

Two cities, a chemical plant, and clotted cars

breathe our distrust of darkness on the air,

clouding the pane between us and the stars.

But have no fear, or only proper fear:

the bright watchers are still there.