Recently I came across this beautiful poem by Wendell Berry. Mr Berry is an award-winning American writer and poet. I found his poem inspiring and uplifting in these dark days. One line, in particular, stood out to me hence this blog on peace, stars and rainbows.
“And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light”
In the daytime, the sun-facing side of our planet is saturated in light from our nearest star. Meanwhile, the night facing side is subject to the distant light of billions of stars. These stars of the night are invisible to us when the sun dominates our daytime lives. They become day-blind to us while they wait for the planet to rotate and bring their light in waiting to our eyes. Our day eliminates them from our vision and our minds. ( unless one of them goes supernova or there is a total solar eclipse available to us )
Our sun shines its light of many colours down on us. However, most of the time we are only aware of light facilitating us to see each other and everything around us. Occasionally the interaction of sunlight and our planet’s weather reveals the spectrum of the suns light hidden to us. Where I live rainbows are a frequent occurrence. Rainbows are beautiful confirmations of Newton’s discovery that sunlight is made up of many colours. Raindrops magicly behave like prisms dispersing rays of sunlight into an array of colours. It is like nature painting the sky, rainbows make everyone look up and smile. Read more about rainbows here on Atmospheric Optics – click the images to read
Sometimes rainbows make short appearances in the sea. Salty prism droplets painting the ocean for our pleasure. Even the moon gets in on the rainbow act. Moonbows can happen, but so far I have not seen one myself. Their origins are similar to daytime rainbows except the light source is the moon reflecting the suns light.
However, a range of components needs to be present for one to form. The moon must be full or close to full, the moon must also be low in the sky. It needs to be showery with clear spells and you need to have the moon behind you, while looking in the opposite direction. If you get all of these elements happening together you might be lucky. The ingredients of seeing a moonbow are many. Moonbows are rare, some are weak in colour and some are vivid. The brightness of the moon and the size of the raindrops influence the quality of the phenomenon. Read more about Moonbows here on Atmospheric Optics
This poem teaches us that in times of difficulty it is important to ” come into the peace of wild things” Walk in nature or if that is not possible, step outside and look up at distant stars. Try to imagine if they support rainbows on exoplanets? Perhaps they enable other extraordinary things that we have yet to discover. Rest yourself in the grace of the world and find peace in stars and rainbows. In this video, below I have an image of a seawater bow which I took on a stroll with friends in 2015. The video was made as part of the eLearning masters I engaged with for a while at Dublin City University.
I called it The Light in My Week