Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Breaking News on ... Polaris

Lovecraft wrote: "the Pole Star, evil and monstrous, leers down from the black vault, winking hideously like an insane watching eye which strives to convey some message"

Prophetic as always, Lovecraft presaged Hubble's view of the third star of Polaris' system.

More pictures and more discussion at www.space.com

From Science News (Ron Cowen)

"Old drawings portray the North Star, Polaris, as a solitary beacon of light. But the star, which generations of seafarers have relied on for navigation, has two stellar companions... One of the stars has been visible to astronomers for centuries, but the other, smaller, fainter star that tightly orbits Polaris has now been photographed for the first time by the Hubble Space Telescope.

"Small telescopes can easily view the more distant partner, which English astronomer William Herschel discovered in 1780. The newfound body, dubbed Polaris Ab, lies about 6 billion kilometers from Polaris and takes about 30 years to orbit it."

{Note that Pluto is about 6 billion kM from the sun and takes 280 years to orbit - CP}

"The triple-star system is 430 light-years from Earth.

"Polaris is the nearest known Cepheid variable, a type of star used to measure the distances to other galaxies and the rate of expansion of the universe. "

So, the next time you look at the North Star, remember Lovecraft. If you look closely at the Hubble picture, I think you can just make out Randolph Carter waving.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh, how I like Chris's blog. It is a daily pleasure to read them.

Another great site for the Polaris re-entry is http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/.

Anyhow, Lovecraft drew much of his inspiration from the works of Edgar Allen Poe, whose style is evident in many of Lovecraft's stories. S.T. Joshi, a leading literary critic who has devoted much time to the study of Lovecraft and written several volumes about his life and works, says Lovecraft's discovery of Poe at the age of eight gave Lovecraft's writing "the greatest impetus it ever received."

"Poe and Lovecraft" by Robert Bloch which first appeared in Ambrosia No. 2 in August of 1973 and can be found at http://alangullette.com/lit/hpl/bloch.htm. This is an interesting read and could be the topic of a future blog.

Chirs, keep the blog going.


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