Cleopatra’s Nebulous Eye

By Harley White posted 11-15-2021 07:11


Image credit: NASA, ESA, and H. Bond and R. Ciardullo (Pennsylvania State University), et. al.; Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America)

Cleopatra’s Nebulous Eye

In constellation Eridanus or
the River, a stunning nebula lies
of brilliant turquoise with bright stellar core
resembling one orb of a pair of eyes.
Misnomered from early telescope looks
as ‘nebula planetary’, widespread
for term that persisted in astro-books,
‘twas spotted by William Herschel it’s said
in seventeen eighty-five, when believed
to be related to planets descried
although we now know this was ill-conceived
since we’ve discerned it as blurrily spied.
An inner ring oblong surrounding star
at center and dual companion too
suggested by measurements from afar
by Hubble observed of ‘eye’ cobalt blue
reminded stargazers of queen ‘divine’
Egyptian with royal descent likewise
besides Macedonian Greek in line,
perchance accounting for guise of her eyes
as shown in encaustic once found then lost
though fortunately described in a tome
from eighteen eighties through times tempest-tossed
upon the blue planet earthlings call home.
While seldom in storied depictions stressed
at hands of historians’ slanted styles,
great intellect Cleopatra possessed,
though fabled for using beauteous wiles.
The nickname ‘Cleopatra’s Eye’ took hold
for cloudscape NGC One Five Three Five
some several thousand light-years we’re told
from realm where terrestrials still survive…
A poet romantic Li He Chinese
who lived about two thousand years ago
and died much too young of the same disease
perhaps as Keats composed lines apropos
of phrases expressive for Milky Way.
‘The River of Heaven wheels round at night’,
wrote he of the firmament’s grand display,
while ‘drifting the circling stars,’ all alight
for lyrists in whilom periods past
inspired by marvels of cosmic esprit
who brooded on heavens timelessly vast
amidst human nature’s inconstancy.
Yet I but a would-be rhapsodist mere
am wondrous at what bygone ages saw
when musing on the stelliferous sphere
with ever present perpetual awe.
~ Harley White
* * * * * * * * *
Some sources of inspiration were the following…
On the Antique Painting in Encaustic of Cleopatra, Discovered in 1818…;f=8;t=008173;p=1
From: ‘A Ballad of Heaven’, by Li He 791-817 C. E.
The River of Heaven wheels round at night
Drifting the circling stars,
At Silver Bank, the floating clouds
Mimic the murmur of water.
~ Li He 791-817 C. E.
Translated by John D. Frodsham
‘Comparative Study of John Keats’ and Li He, by Changming Yuan
Skyhound observation of NGC 1535…
Image and info ~ Hubble Spies Eye in the Sky…
Cleopatra’s Eye, or NGC 1535, is a planetary nebula in the constellation Eridanus. This nebula has an unusual structure, with an outer region and a brighter inner center. A planetary nebula forms when a star approximately the size of our Sun dies, exhaling its outer layers into space as the core turns into a white dwarf star. Through early telescopes these objects resembled planets – giving them their name – but planetary nebulae are unrelated to actual planets. Hubble observed this nebula as part of a study of over 100 planetary nebulae with nearby stars. The proximity of the stars indicated a possible gravitational connection between the nearby stars and the central stars of the nebulae. Observations of the distance between NGC 1535’s central star and its possible companion suggest that Cleopatra’s Eye is indeed part of a gravitationally bound binary star system.
Image credit: NASA, ESA, and H. Bond and R. Ciardullo (Pennsylvania State University), et. al.; Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America)