IN A 1941 SHORT STORY
CALLED “NIGHTFALL,” author
Isaac Asimov writes about a planet with six suns. Once
every 2,000 years, the suns would become aligned so that
they all set at once—and only then would the inhabitants of
that world know darkness. In Asimov’s story, that “nightfall,”
with its splendid, never-before-seen stars, called forth
a terror among the people that caused them to run amok,
and brought an end to their civilization.
Here on Earth, nightfall is so commonplace! Most of the
time, we give it no notice at all. Can we learn to look with
fresh eyes at the changes that take place every evening as
our planet turns into its own shadow and lets us see the
Late sun-rays flicker
Through pine and oak foliage…
One inch at a time
It slides up our grassy hill—
Six o’clock shadow.
Amid still and moving lights
This day also fades.
— Robert L. Eklund
A FOGGY NIGHT ON MOUNT WILSON — Just before
sunset, the low clouds covering Los Angeles and Pasadena
begin to rise and soon engulf the mountaintop, shrouding
the Observatory in a thick fog. The night assistant on the
100-inch telescope, who had been setting up for a night
with the stars, covers the telescope and closes the dome
just in time to prevent the moist fog from condensing on
the mirrors and damaging their reflectivity. Although the
month is June, it is chilly and clammy in the fog, with a
peculiar quiet. The only sound now is the slow dripping
where fog condenses on pine-needles. There’ll be no
astronomy tonight, and the fog is too thick to drive home
in. There’s nothing left to do but stay put, slow down, let
thoughts roam, and dream…
On the other side
Of this damp blanket of gloom,
Was there a sunset?
Lost in a deep fog,
Old Mount Wilson is dreaming
Of past starry nights.
Solidly socked in,
This June night only reflects
The light we give off.
So much is hidden
Above this low murky sky
And under these words.
— Robert L. Eklund
WORDS WITH WINGS
Robert L. Eklund Writing Services
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