You Were on the Moon: Astropoetry from Tychogirl

After my last post about one-syllable math, I tried my hand at a proof of the math fact of Rolle in short words. The constraints and focus on words themselves got me thinking about mathematics in a way I usually don’t: is “length” or “range” a better one-syllable description of a bounded interval? One thing led to another, and soon friends were sharing not only their monosyllabic proofs but also their sonnets about the Bolzano-Weierstrass theorem and Euclid’s definition of same ratio. My love for mathematical poetry is well documented, but today I want to share one of my favorite poetry blogs that isn’t about math.

Christine Rueters: "Spectators on a Florida beach await the launch of Apollo 11."

Christine Rueter: “Spectators on a Florida beach await the launch of Apollo 11.”

Don’t get too worried: it’s about astronomy, and the two disciplines have a long history together. Mathematics is certainly necessary for astronomy, and astronomy motivated the development of much mathematics. With that justification, I’d like to introduce you to tychogirl by Christine Rueter. Her poetry combines images from space with spare, arresting text.

"Text from an old Sir Walter Scott novel redacted into a poem. Photo at right is a sunset on Mars taken by the Mars rover Spirit in 2005. Image credit: Mars Exploration Rover Mission, Texas A&M, Cornell, JPL, NASA."-Christine Rueters.

Christine Rueter: “Text from an old Sir Walter Scott novel redacted into a poem. Photo at right is a sunset on Mars taken by the Mars rover Spirit in 2005. Image credit: Mars Exploration Rover Mission, Texas A&M, Cornell, JPL, NASA.”

Rueter often make scenes from the history of space exploration visceral. This one, written in honor of the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission that landed on the moon, just grabbed me.

Poem typed onto an Apollo 11 image gallery. (Photos credit: NASA). Image: Christine Rueters.

Christine Rueter: “Poem typed onto an Apollo 11 image gallery. (Photos credit: NASA)”

Rueter has posted recently about Philae’s landing on a comet and the spacecraft and rovers that are exploring the solar system where we can’t.

Christine Rueter: “Spacecraft and rovers from Earth to upper right: Hubble Space Telescope (image credit: NASA), lunar rover Yutu (image credit: China space), Mars rover Curiosity (image credit: NASA/JPL), Cassini (image credit: NASA/JPL), Rosetta (image credit: ESA, image by AOES Medialab), New Horizons (image credit: NASA), Voyager (image credit: NASA), and Pioneer (image credit: NASA).”

As with all poetry, I can’t explain what I love about Rueter’s work, but it sometimes gives me goosebumps. So I hope you’ll pardon the digression from mathematics and take a look at tychogirl.

Christine Rueter: "A poem for the European Space Agency’s lander, Philae, that landed successfully on Comet 67P on November 12, 2014. Background image credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA."

Christine Rueter: “A poem for the European Space Agency’s lander, Philae, that landed successfully on Comet 67P on November 12, 2014. Background image credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA.”

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