Space Ship Earth
APOD April 16, 1996

How beautiful
Our magnetic field lines.
So streaming in the night
Free of the Sun.
We see where our true momentum lies.
But we are trapped in our orbit
Almost like an after thought.

If only Orpheus had ignored Apollo’s song,
The competition with his father,
The Sun who pressures
Our daylight side.
We might know our magnetic force,
Residing between two electric currents,
Perhaps Apollo and Calliope.

Were we to leave our orbit
Earth would be a very small comet,
Ambitious beyond measure,
To challenge Cometary Knots
Twice the size of the Solar System.

All in good time, but first
The unrelenting orbit.



Field lines of a bar magnet are commonly illustrated by iron filings sprinkled on a sheet of paper held over a magnet. Similarly, field lines of the Earth start near the south pole of the Earth, curve around in space and converge again near the north pole.

However, in the Earth's magnetosphere, currents also flow through space and modify this pattern: on the side facing the Sun, field lines are compressed earthward, while on the night side they are pulled out into a very long "tail," like that of a comet. Near Earth, however, the lines remain very close to the "dipole pattern" of a bar magnet, so named because of its two poles.

If you've any comment on this poem, L. Fullington would be pleased to hear from you.