Alton Webteam: October 2017
In my student days at the Hull Municipal Technical College one of the topics in the syllabus was optics, when I learned all about lenses. I could not grind my own like the early makers of telescopes, but there were discarded spectacles to be obtained from various sources, and I managed to construct a telescope out of a cardboard tube, an oval spectacle lens and a pocket magnifying glass, an item which was in common use by botanists and stamp collectors. The magnification was a substantial 25 or 30! Terrestrial objects were somewhat dim and distorted, but when I turned the telescope to the night sky, like Galileo, I was amazed at what it revealed. Areas which had appeared blank to the naked eye were now crowded with pin points of light, and constellations such as the Pleiades proved to be not only the seven stars barely discernible to the naked eye, but a glittering cluster of more than 50! That crude construction of discarded items opened up a world unseen before and started an interest in Astronomy which has continued to this day.
It also inspired the following poem, which I wrote in those distant college days, but which is still relevant today.
SONNET AT SUNSET
The trees stand black along the dark hill's rim
Like sentries, twixt the sunset and the night.
The fields and hedges merge, and grow more dim
And dusk draws closer, as the orange light
Circling the Western skyline pales to grey.
And Southwards, in a sky of deepening blue
Hangs Jupiter, whose bright unwinking ray
Soon seems so wan and pale, as into view
Above the treetops slowly climbs the Moon.
What peace and quiet beauty reign tonight!
The earth seems full of some slow solemn tune,
A soundless harmony of sense and sight.
Could every human heart its music hear
There were no cause for wrong, or hate, or fear.
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