The current banner image for this blog and for Celestial Timepiece is taken from HubbleSite, run for NASA by the Space Telescope Science Institute. STScI titles the image “Cone Nebula (NGC 2264): Star-Forming Pillar of Gas and Dust,” and further describes it as “a nightmarish beast rearing its head from a crimson sea”—as if this were not obvious to anyone familiar with nightmarish beasts. Or crimson seas.

Though some have deemed Joyce Carol Oates’s writing to be astronomical in scope, they may not have realized that some of her work is astronomical in theme as well:

Corky’s fascination with cosmology in the Pulitzer-finalist What I lived For; the story “The Radio Astronomer” from Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque; the poem “The Triumph of Gravity” from Tenderness; and of course Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang, with chapter titles such as “A Short History of the Heavens” and “Ocean Of Storms. Sea Of Tranquility. Lake Of Dreams. Lake Of Death.”

JCO notes that “Looking into the depths of the sky, we are looking into Time: the stars of distant galaxies that seem to us so beautiful, so fraught with meaning beyond our human ability to comprehend, are in fact not there, but, long extinct; even our own sun is eight minutes into what astronomers call look-back time. Maddy Wirtz, the chronicler of the Foxfire Confessions, in adulthood an astronomer’s assistant, is only able to tell her story through the prism of look-back time—’Undertaken now because I have the proper telescopic instrument.’ Which is to say, the perspective of Time.”


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