Cosmic Dawn

Early this morning – what most call night –
I looked to the sky and saw
just a few stars against the blackness
that is not empty but still unseen.
It’s out there. I’m searching for signals.

In my poem, I am searching for more than just stars out there in the universe. But, in cosmology, the cosmic dawn is the first light from the most ancient stars in the observable Universe. That light would have to have traveled for nearly 14 billion years to reach Earth. These are numbers so large that they are incomprehensible – at least to me. The light is also too faint to view directly with ordinary telescopes, but radio astronomers have been looking for an indirect effect, using the spectrum of radio waves. It was thought that they had found that first light, but now there is some doubt.

The Ghost of the Shimmering Summer Dawn

has returned in the East to us,
as darkness gives way to morning light,
after hiding behind the Sun all spring.
He prepares quietly for the autumn hunt,
and then always moves south for winter.


Late July and early August are when Orion the Hunter appears in the East with the dawn. It is one of the constellations that even non-stargazers can find in the sky because of the very distinctive three “belt” stars (Mintaka, Alnitak, and Alnilam) which point upward. The 3 stars of his sword and the stars that form his bow are also quite clear.

Orion has been hiding from me as the stars pass behind the sun in the Northern Hemisphere’s spring and by June Orion is gone from my sky. But he faithfully, predictably returns now when I mark my midsummer.

From my Northern Hemisphere home, Orion appears in winter moving across the south during the evening hours. If I was in the Southern Hemisphere, the constellation would be almost overhead at year’s end.

Orion and Jupiter over the Forest


2016-05 Grand Ballon circumpolar star trails 01
image via Wikimedia Commons

Like stars that neither rise nor set,
I stay up at all hours lately.
Not every day, not circling endlessly,
but tonight I watch the Big Dipper
in solidarity. Awake in day and night.



The circumpolar Big Dipper and the W-shaped constellation Cassiopeia circle around Polaris, the North Star, in a period of 23 hours and 56 minutes. The Big Dipper is circumpolar at 41 degrees north latitude, and all latitudes farther north.

Hidden in the Night Sky

The Pleiades (Elihu Vedder).jpg
The Pleiades (Seven Sisters) by Elihu VedderPublic Domain

Any fireballs from Taurus are unseen tonight.
A bright Moon lights my nightwoods path
on my brief escape from home and
I am hidden from human sight but
for Seven Sisters’ divine, disappointed gaze above.

The South or North Taurid meteor showers are active from late September to late November,
but I read that November 4-5, 2020 is supposed to be a peak.
Unfortunately, that coincides with the Moon being at a bright waning gibbous phase.

The North Taurids peak on the night of November 11-12 when the moonlight
from the waning crescent moon will be much less intense.
A fireball is a nickname given to a particularly bright meteor.

The Pleiades, also known as the Seven Sisters, are in the north-west of the constellation Taurus.
It is among the star clusters nearest to Earth and is the cluster most obvious to the naked eye in the night sky.
In Japan, the constellation is said to have 6 stars and I’m sure all but one of those sisters would be pleased that their stars became the symbol for Subaru cars.

Our Brightest Star

Even in this night without true darkness,
I see you rising slowly after midnight.
I see you in the southern dawn.
Faithful dog, at the end of Orion’s
astral belt. Stay, my Sirius. Good boy.

The brightest star visible from any part of Earth is Sirius in the constellation Canis Major the Greater Dog. Sirius is sometimes called the Dog Star.      Learn more