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This date in science: Pablo Neruda and the beauty of the universe

Astronomical imagery often figured in the poetry of Pablo Neruda. Today, with the help of Michael West of Maria Mitchell Observatory, we honor that connection.

View larger. | Image composed via Photoshop by Michael West.  Poem by Pablo Neruda.

View larger. | Image composed via Photoshop by Michael West. Poem by Pablo Neruda.

September 23, 1973. Today is the 41th anniversary of the death of the great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (1904-1973). Michael West, Director of the Maria Mitchell Observatory, sent this image a year ago, and we like it so much we decided to post it again. He wrote:

Astronomical imagery often figured in Neruda’s poetry, for example one of his poems begins: Every day you play with the light of the universe.

Another poem titled The Future is Space describes black space with room for many dreams.

In the attached composite image (made from photos I took in Chile) I’ve included a portion of Neruda’s poem titled La Poesia in which the Nobel Prize winner described the feeling of discovering poetry as a youth, comparing it to the beauty of the universe.

… As you know, Neruda’s homeland of Chile, which he loved, is now home to many of the world’s greatest telescopes, and future home to the European Southern Observatory Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) and the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT).

Original photo taken with a Canon 5D MkIII.

Post-processing via Photoshop CC + Nik plug-ins.

By the way, the Maria Mitchell Observatory is located in Nantucket, Massachusetts, USA. Founded in 1908, it’s named for Maria Mitchell, who was the first American woman to work as a professional astronomer.

Bottom line: September 23, 1973 was the day that the great Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda, died. Today, with the help of Michael West of Maria Mitchell Observatory, we honor his connection with astronomy.

Deborah Byrd

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