Poem: Asteroid (August is a Funny Month)

scenic view of forest during night time
Photo by Hristo Fidanov on Pexels.com

August is a funny month
They peddle the story again and again
An asteroid the same size
as the one that supposedly
did for the dinosaurs
is hurtling inexorably our way

August is a funny month
with a supposed lack of news
but they will have to do better
than fear-porn their way
to selling silly stories
that fewer take on board

August is a funny month
when some stories vanish
dropped like hot potatoes
while others appear out of nowhere
to scare and confuse – but
some are on to the ruse

copyright Francis Barker 2019

Haiku: Patterns

Photo by Pixabay, pexels.com

Trace around the sky
Heaven is a clock with soul
It does not compel

copyright Francis Barker 2019

Arthur Storer – First known American astronomer, ‘discoverer’ of what became known as Halley’s Comet

Photo by Francis Barker

We recently visited the small market town of Grantham in Lincolnshire in the east of England and found out something new and interesting.

Among the notable people associated with Grantham are Sir Isaac Newton, who was born nearby and former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, who was raised in the town in her father’s shop.

Astronomer and Mathematician

Walking through the town and by the wonderful church, we came across the old school building, upon which is a notice, bearing the name of Arthur Storer, identifying him as an astronomer and mathematician. I have to confess, up to that point, I had never heard of him.

It turns out that he knew Isaac Newton and probably had a fight with him when they were boys. However, the two later became friends and scientific associates, Newton recognising Storer’s contribution in his most famous work Philosophi√¶ Naturalis Principia Mathematica.¬†

Fine Reputation

What I did not know was that Storer effectively became the first known astronomer in America and he developed a reputation for accuracy which outlived him.

Storer seems to have initially trained to be an apothecary, the profession of his step father, William Clarke of Grantham. However, it would appear that his real interests lay in the science of astronomy.

Journeys to Maryland

He would later travel to Maryland in North America, to observe all astronomical phenomena there. Later he would make a second trip to Maryland to do more astronomical work, sending his calculations to Isaac Newton.

A consequence of this work was that one comet he observed, in 1682, would later turn out to be Halley’s Comet, named after Edmund Halley who became the first to forecast its next appearance.

Sadly, Storer did not live to be an old man, dying in early 1687. He is buried in Maryland.

copyright Francis Barker 2019