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Cosmic Quotations, Poetry,
and Prose:

A compilation of reflections on our Universe.

Edited by Julie Ware,

Physics 133 Extra Credit Project


Einstein, the same man who discovered the Law of Relativity,
also said that “imagination is more important than
knowledge.” This is true because to desire an
understanding of the heavens, your imagination must first be
probed by curiosity. In order to even begin understanding
the laws of the Universe, it requires imagination to
understand just how grand of a scale we are talking about. I
want to incorporate both science and reflections of the
imagination by summarizing certain astronomical topics, while
including quotes or prose from famous physicists and

“Cosmos Dancing”, by Jo Ann Durham

Astronomy Quotes

Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of
logical ideas. (Albert Einstein)

The cosmos is all there is, all there ever was,
and all there ever will be. (Carl Sagan)

“We especially need imagination in science. It
is not all mathematics, nor all logic, but is
somewhat beauty and poetry.” (Maria
1889, astronomer )

The History of Astronomy


The history of astronomy is immense because it’s in human nature to be
curious. As far back as 2,500 years ago, Muslim people predicted eclipses
using saros cycles. Also, the heavens were used to keep track of seasons for
agriculture, using sundials to observe the passing of time. Ancient
structures were used in search of astronomical connections. For example,
the Stonehenge was built as early as approx. 2,500 BC to mark the

Before the Copernican revolution, people believed that the world was the
center of the universe. This one misconception led people to entertain
complex and ultimately untrue laws of nature, for example, that the planets
traveled around earth in complex retrograde cycles.

In 1542, Copernicus published “Concerning the Revolutions of the
Heavenly Spears,” which replaced prior geometric layouts and put was
Heliocentric. Though Copernicus’ ideas were not all right, he did however
spark a necessary scientific revolution, leading to Kepler, Galileo, as well as
many others to begin the development of modern day scientific principles.

Kepler’s laws of planetary motion states that every planet orbits around the
sun at an ellipse, as well as another invisible point, a planet sweeps out equal
areas in equal times in orbit, and more distant planets orbit the sun at slower

Galileo used the telescope to show that the heavens were not perfect,
leading us to seek natural explanations for phenomena.

History of Astronomy Quotes

They came to a round hole in the sky, burning like fire. "This," said the
Raven, "is a star."

Inuit creation story

Even sticks and stones have a spiritual essence, a manifestation of the
mysterious power that fills the Universe.

Sioux Indian

It is indeed immensely picturesque. I can fancy sitting all a summer's day
watching its shadows shorten and lengthen again, and drawing a delicious
contrast between the world's duration and the feeble span of individual
experience. There is something in Stonehenge almost reassuring; and if
you are disposed to feel that life is rather a superficial matter, and that we
soon get to the bottom of things, the immemorial gray pillars may serve to
remind you of the enormous background of time.

Henry James 1875 CE

Copernican Revolution in Western

There are forces in nature called Love and Hate. The
force of Love causes elements to be attracted to each
other and to be built up into some particular form or
person, and the force of Hate causes the decomposition
of things.

Empedocles 430 BCE

The forces of rotation caused red hot masses of stones
to be torn away from the Earth and to be thrown into the
ether, and this is the origin of the stars.

Anaxagoras 428 BCE

The Sun is a mass of fiery stone, a little larger than

Anaxagoras 434 BCE

Post Copernican Revolution:

The Universe is populated by innumerable suns,
innumerable earths, and perhaps, innumerable forms of life.
That thought expresses the essence of the Copernican
revolution. No revelation more striking has ever come from
the scientific mind.

Robert Jastrow 1989 CE

You realize the sun don'
go down

It's just an illusion caused by the world spinning round

The Flaming Lips, “Do You Realize?”


Making Sense of It All

The universal law of gravitation states that every mass
attracts other mass by gravity and is directly proportional.
The strength of gravity between objects decreases with the
square of their distance between centers. (Inverse square
law) Our gravity on earth is 9.8 m/s squared.

Motion: Newton’s version of Kepler’s 3

law allows us to
measure orbital periods by distance, mass, and orbital
periods. Also, Velocity is equaled to distance divided by

Conservation of angular momentum explains that orbits and
rotations cannot change course unless torque acts upon the
paths. Conservation of momentum states that nothing can
change unless acted upon by another force. Conservation
of energy applies the same principle, that energy cannot just
disappear or appear, but changes only by exchanges of

“But on your tiny planet, my little prince, all you need to
do is move your chair a few steps. You can see the day
end and the twilight falling whenever you like…

“One day,” you said to me, “I saw the sunset forty

And a little later you added:

“You know
one loves the sunset, when one is so sad…”

“Were you so sad, then?” I asked, “on the day of the
four sunsets?”

But the little prince made no reply.

Antoine De Saint
Exupery The Little Prince

Orbital Velocity:

Laws of Motion

Watch the stars and
from them learn.

To the Master's
honor all must turn,

Each in its track,
without a sound,

Forever tracing
Newton's ground.

Albert Einstein

Universal Concepts

Observations always involve theory.

Edwin Hubble


Gravity is only the bark of wisdom's tree, but it is what preserves it.

Confucius 500 BCE


For us physicists, the distinction between past, present, and future is
only an illusion.

Albert Einstein

A day is a miniature eternity.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

To see a world in a grain of sand, and a heaven in a wild flower, hold
infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour.

William Blake 1800 CE

Time begins from some place

Measured by the age of light.

It began from the furthest thing

We see flicker in the night.

Art Mason

Our Solar System

The Sun and It’s Planets

The earth rotates, thus making it appear that stars rise and
set, (including our sun.)

The tilt of the earth as it revolves around the sun causes
seasons, or different hemispheres to feel light more or less

Planets that are closer to the sun are Terrestial, or, earthlike
and rocky.

Planets that are farther from the sun are Jovian, or jupiterlike
and gaseous.

The origin of the solar system is thought to be by the Nebular
Theory, a giant gaseous explosion. Condensation and
Accretion help support the nebular theory.

We are able to know the composition of the sun by observing
absorption lines, which serve as fingerprints formed in the

The Sun is composed of many layers, including the core,
radiation zone, convention zone, photosphere, chromosphone,
and the corona. It’s energy source can be found through

The Sun

The Sun, with all the planets revolving around it,
and depending on it, can still ripen a bunch of
grapes as though it had nothing else in the
Universe to do.

Galileo Galilei

“I say Live, Live because of the Sun, The
Dream, the excitable gift.”

Anne Sexton, 1928
1974, P 495


“The Evolution of the world may be compared to a
display of fireworks that has just ended: some few red
wisps, ashes, and smoke. Standing on a cooled cinder,
we see the slow fading of suns, and we try to recall the
vanished brilliance of the origin of the worlds.”
Lemaitre, 1864
1966). P 235

See the world as it truly is, small and
blue, beautiful in that eternal silence
where it floats.

Archibald Macleish

The Moon

Is the moon tired? she
looks so pale

Within her misty veil:

She scales the sky from
east to west,

And takes no rest.

Before the coming of the

The moon shows papery

Before the dawning of
the day

She fades away.


Christina Rossetti




Constellations are familiar patterns that help us to identify regions of the
sky with well defined borders. The International Astronomical union has
divided the sky in 88 constellations.

We use the Hertzsprung
Russell Diagram to determine properties’ of
stars, which shows that Luminosity is relative to the Temperature ^4 by
the Radius ^2 (The Stefan Boltzmann Law)

The life of a star is based on it’s mass because its mass determines its
how much energy it gives off.

Temperature is classified by OBAFGKM.

The 5 classes of Luminosity include

I Supergiants

II Bright Giants

III Giants


V Main sequence stars


The life of a star is a constant battle between gravity and pressure.


stars die by becoming a supernova, then either a black whole or neutron star.

Low mass stars die by becoming a planetary nubula, then a white dward.



It is remarkable that the elements diffused through the host of stars are
some of those most closely connected with the living organisms of our

W. Huggins, 1865 CE

God is mostly hydrogen.

Bradley Snowder 1988 CE

“we are, therefore, made out of star stuff… we feed upon sunbeams, we are kept
warm by the radiation of the Sun, and we are made out of the same materials
that constitute the stars.”

Harlow Shapley, The Universe of Stars

Star Clusters

There are too many stars in some places and not enough in

Mark Twain

It is nothing else but a mass of innumerable stars planted
together in clusters.

Galileo Galilei 1611 CE (the Milky Way)

Many a night I saw the Pleiads,

Rising thro' the mellow shade,

Glitter like a swarm of fire

Tangled in a silver braid.


May it not be that the brighter stars are like our Sun, the
upholding and energizing centers of systems of living beings?

William Huggins 1865 CE

O had I power like inclination,

I'd hoist thee up a constellation!

To canter with the Sagittare,

Or leap the Ecliptic like a bear,

Or turn the Pole like any arrow;

Or when old Phoebus bids good

Down the Zodiac urge the race,

And cast dirt on his godship's face:

For I could lay my bread and kale

He'd ne'er cast salt upon thy tail!

Robert Burns 1788 CE

The wind
shak'd surge, with high and monstrous main, Seems to cast water
on the burning Bear, And quench the guards of the ever
fixed pole.

Shakespeare, (Othello)


Why did not somebody teach me the constellations, and make me at home in the
starry heavens, which are always overhead, and which I don't half know to this day?

Thomas Carlyle 1880 CE

The Stellar Graveyard

When I had satisfied myself that no star of
that kind had ever shone before, I was led
into such perplexity by the unbelievability
of the thing that I began to doubt the faith
of my own eyes.

Tycho Brahe (supernova 1572)


The Milky Way


In the early 1600s Galileo used the telescope to show that the
milky way is composed of individual stars.

We are a spiral galaxy with many spiral arms that revolve around
a bulge on a relatively flat disk, surrounded by a dimmer halo.
The Halo contains about 200 globular clusters of stars.

Our galaxy is abour 100,000 light years in diameter.

We can use stellar orbits to measure galactic mass through
Kepler’s third law.

We’re recycled throughout our galaxy through the star

The other types of galaxies are elliptical and irregular.
Elliptical galaxies are most often found in clusters , containing
100s to thousands of other galaxies.

Andromeda is the closest galaxy to the Milky Way at about 2.5
million light years away.

Local groups consist of about 40 galaxies, with 3 million light
years across.

Galaxy Quotes

The infinitude of creation is great enough to make a world, or a Milky Way
of worlds, look in comparison with it what a flower or an insect does in
comparison with the Earth.

Immanuel Kant

Torrent of light and river of air,

Along whose bed the glimmering stars are seen,

Like gold and silver sands in some ravine

Where mountain streams have left their channels bare!

H.W. Longfellow 1880 CE (the Milky Way)

Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum
star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe
in which there are far more galaxies than people.

Carl Sagan

That is the spiral galaxy in Andromeda. It is as large as our Milky Way. It is one of a
hundred million galaxies. It consists of one hundred billion suns. Now I think we are
small enough.

Franklin D. Roosevelt




Our observable universe is about 14 Billion years old. We

know this because we are able to see 14 Billion light years in

all directions around us.

The Universe is expanding and can be measured by Hubble’s Law,
where H tells us the rate of expansion that galaxies are moving apart.
1/H tells us how long the universe has been expanding (age.)

Our observable universe is growing 1 light year every year.


An object’s distance is easier to be expressed in look back time.

Lookback time is directly proportional to cosmological redshift, and
thus we can record how the expansion of the universe expands
photons, shifting them to redder wavelengths.

Universe Quotes

"What did you see?" I asked, "Before beginning's Big Bang lights?"

(I reviews and interviews, I edits and I writes).

"Before the start of time, before the Universe's birth?

What did the Hubble show, ten billion years before the Earth?"

He told me. Now I writes no more. I drinks a bit, I edits.

"Right before the beginning, " he said, "is when they roll the credits!"

Jonathan Vos Post

Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes that call
me on and on across the Universe. Limitless undying love which shines
around me like a million suns, it calls me on and on across the Universe.

The Beatles 1968 CE

The universal spectacle throughout

Was shaped for admiration and delight,

Grand in itself alone, but in that breach

Through which the homeless voice of waters rose,

That dark deep thoroughfare, had Nature lodged

The Soul, the Imagination of the whole.


Our eyes prefer to suppose

That a habitable place

Has a geocentric view,

That architects enclose

A quiet Euclidian space:

Exploded myths

but who

Could feel at home astraddle

An ever expanding saddle?

W.H. Auden

Starry Night

Vincent Van Gogh

Works Cited


Durham Collection."
Welcome to Tarleton State University

Tarleton State University
10 May 2009

Van Gogh, Vincent.
Starry Night
, oil on canvas by Vincent van Gogh, 1888; in the
Musée d’Orsay, Paris.


Bennett, Jeffrey.
Cosmic Perspective
. 5th Edition. San Francisco: Pearson Educ. Inc.,

Exupery, Antoine de.
The Little Prince
. San Diego New York London: Harcourt,
Inc., 2000.


Auden, WH. Poetry, “After Reading a Child's Guide to Modern Physics,” The New
Yorker, November 17, 1962, p. 48

Rossetti, Christina, Poetry, “Sing Song,” Ed. Arthur Hughes. London: MACMILLAN AND

Wordsworth, William. “Climbing Snowdon” (Book XIII, ls 1
The Prelude.

Harold Bloom
New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986.


Western Washington University Planetarium Collection. Ed. Brad Snowder. 2006.
Western Washington University. 10 May 2009

On Truth & RealityThe Spherical Standing Wave Structure of Matter in Spac
Ed.Geoff Haselhurst.1997
2009. WSM. 9 May 2009