Jimmy Westlake: Hectostar — 100 Little Diamonds | SteamboatToday.com

Jimmy Westlake: Hectostar — 100 Little Diamonds

Jimmy Westlake

Jimmy Westlake, author of Celestial News.

As I sit here at my desk preparing this week's Celestial News column, a rare transit of the planet Mercury across the sun is in progress, somewhere up above the thick cloud cover.

Spring storms have clouded out several of my observing programs this year. Disappointing? Yes, but, clouds happen, which is why I try to make the most of every crystal clear twinkly-star night that I can.

What do astronomers do on those cloudy nights, besides catch up on lost sleep? Well, this astronomer sometimes puts pen to paper to produce poetry. I've discovered that words can sometimes capture the magnificence of a twinkly-star night better than the camera can.

Such was the case as I sat inside one cloudy autumn night a few years ago. The star names Algiedi, Dubhe, Dabih (pronounced "aljeedee, doobee, dahbee") kept repeating in my head and making me snicker. Aljeedee, doobee, dahbee. Aljeedee, doobee, dahbee.

I wondered if anyone had ever written a poem using only the names of stars, and then, I set out to do just that.

Star names have always delighted me. There must be hundreds of named stars in the sky, and, over the decades, I've learned many of them by heart.

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A dear old friend of mine, Eugene Barboza, now deceased, used to play this game with me where we would find some obscure star name and test the other's astronomical prowess. Geno, as I called him, got the best of me more than once, but the game helped me learn many new star names, and I thank him for that.

So, I decided to create a rhyme using the names of 100 of my favorite stars, beginning with the three that tickled me so, Algiedi, Dubhe and Dabih.

In the metric system, the prefix "hecto" means "one-hundred," such as a hectometer or a hectogram. My new rhyme would be called "Hectostar."

The star names flowed from my memory and onto the paper almost effortlessly, as if they had been assembling themselves in my subconscious mind for years. In about an hour, "Hectostar" had written itself. Here it is. Enjoy.

Hectostar

Algiedi, Dubhe, Dabih,

Deneb, and Betelgeuse;

Merak, Merope, Kochab,

And Miaplacidus.

Navi, Nunki, Mira,

And Pulcherrima, too.

Zubenelgenubi,

and little Eta Boo.

Rasalgethi, Rasalhague,

Nashira, Shaula, Caph;

Zubeneschamali

With Vega, Chort, and Saiph.

Sualocin and Rotanev

Bellatrix, Rigel, Choo;

Sheratan and Alpheratz,

And Cor Caroli, too.

Don't forget Antares,

Nor Sirius and Maaz,

Procyon, Albireo,

Alderamin and Kraz.

Fomalhaut and Sheliak

With Vindemiatrix;

Alshain, Altair, and Tarazed,

Alphard and Aspidiske.

Gemma, Gienah, Alnitak,

Mintaka, Alnilam,

Mimosa, Castor, Pollux,

Muscida, and Mirzam.

Capella, Algol, Rastaban,

Acubens, Propus, Keid,

Dschubba, Cursa, Achernar,

Kornepheros, and Beid.

Cujam, Zosma, Porrima,

With Rukbat, Naos, Ain;

Aldebaran and Algorab,

Matar and Muhlifain.

Markab, Scheat, and Algenib,

Polaris and Menkar;

Enif and Zavijava,

Arcturus and Mizar.

Arneb, Nihal, Canopus,

Alrescha, Sadalsuud,

Regulus, Denebola,

Gomeisa, and Furud.

Wezn, Phact, Alcyone,

Thuban, and there you are.

One hundred little diamonds

That make a hectostar.

Jimmy Westlake (10/10/10)