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Sombrero in Space


The word sombrero in Spanish was made
from Late Latin origin, meaning shade.
Predating Mexican type of headwear
that’s commonly presupposed, instead they’re

more generally hats designed with brim.
Therefore the galaxy’s wide-ranging rim,
through pareidolia’s visual drift
causing our human perception to shift,

gave it to stargazers sombrero guise
as seen in Virgo’s sidereal skies.
Hence nickname ‘Sombrero’ has taken hold
with globular clustered stars in its fold

which swarm quite abundantly ‘round the core.
Its technical tag is M One O Four
From Earth we perceive it almost edge-on,
a factor inducing some to hedge on

whether the galaxy, like Milky Way,
is spiral or has an elliptic splay
or might be a hybrid blending the two,
a question left hanging from earthly view.

It’s said to be fifty thousand light-years
across, roughly thirty million from spheres
where we dwell, with ten times as many groups
of star clusters globular as the troops

in Milky Way’s multitudinous realms—
such grandeur galactic indeed o’erwhelms—
which orbit in circular halo’s verge.
Aye myriad worlds for life to emerge!

Dust lanes birthing stars about it are wed,
ringed paths poetic for dreamers to tread.
A white dwarf companion perhaps may be
midst all the clusters of huge stellar spree.

If wonders abound in this ‘hat’ on high,
how many more lie beyond earthly eye?
While one must not lose sight of doings here,
someday human antics will disappear.

When miseries render our stance downcast
why not gaze above at the cosmos vast
whose infinite fathomlessness steadfast
shall troublesome worries ever outlast?


~ Harley White


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Image and info ~ Hubble mosaic of the majestic Sombrero Galaxy…

Image explanation ~ NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has its eye on the Sombrero galaxy, Messier 104 (M104), which has a white, bulbous core encircled by the thick dust lanes comprising the spiral structure of the galaxy. As seen from Earth, the galaxy is tilted nearly edge-on. This galaxy was named the Sombrero because of its resemblance to the Mexican hat. It lies at the southern edge of the rich Virgo cluster of galaxies and is one of the most massive objects in that group, equivalent to 800 billion suns. The galaxy is 50,000 light-years across and is located 30 million light-years from Earth.


Copyright © Harley White

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