A Return to the Stars

I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

John Masefield, Sea Fever

The Sea

You may remember our dear friend, Hipparchus from the “Narratives of Science” who was a stargazer as well as the mathematical genius who invented trigonometry. While that would be enough for any lifetime, even for a man of his intellect, it seems that he had a third occupation, that of a renowned geographer, over and above being an astronomer and  mathematician.

In the midst of cataloguing all of the known stars, Hipparchus perceived the potent relationship between earth and the heavens. He was the first person to plot places on the earth’s surface using the concepts of longitude and latitude in his geographical positioning.  He concluded that a geographic map must be founded on astronomical measurements of latitude, longitude and triangulation.  Some even believe that Hipparchus was the inventor of the astrolabe, an elaborate instrument that would enable navigators to predict the positions of the Sun, Moon, planets and stars.

Three centuries later, Claudius Ptolemy, would compete his work by creating the first world atlas.  The world of navigation would never be the same again.

Skill’d in the globe and sphere, he gravely stands,  And, with his compass, measures seas and lands.”

John Dryden

 

16 thoughts on “A Return to the Stars

    • Recently, I watched Caroline Kennedy being interviewed on Stephen Colbert about her new book of poetry. Stephan and Caroline had a poetry dual where one started The Charge of the Light Brigade and then other would take over for the next couple of lines before the other took over again. It was marvelous. Their discussion was all about how poetry gave us purpose, beauty , compassion and hope.

      Thanks so much for your comments!!!

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    • I love that poem! It was even quoted in one of the first Star Trek movies. We are tied to the sea, even when we are landlocked. Our imaginations take us on the best adventures of all. Thanks again for all of your comments. You add so much to the dialogue.

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  1. I can almost feel myself on Masefield’s tall ship. I marvel at the intelligence of these wise men of old. Their abilities were God-given, that is for sure. I would love to see Hipparchus’ maps and Ptolemy’s world atlas.

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    • Me too! And every so often there comes a voice that helps explain that mystery. When I was reviewing all the ancient scientists this past couple of weeks, I realized that they asked the right questions. Without the questions, it is rather doubtful that we will have answers!!! Thank you so much for stopping by and adding to the dialogue….

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      • It’s really special to be part of your dialogues, for human intrigue knows no bounds, and limits of the imagination aren’t really limits at all (looking at the stars).

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      • You have made my day joyful. In the midst of a chaotic environment there are places and moments that give respite. Once rested, the chaos then takes on an orderly appearance. And as you said so well – “limits of the imagination aren’t really limits at all.”

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    • Thank you so much! There is so much depth to the poem because it speaks to the voyage of life, freedom…and the fellowship of humanity.

      “I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
      To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
      And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
      And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.”

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