Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Beyond the Wall of Sleep: Anderson's Star

Lovecraft and reality! There was a star ...

Beyond the Wall of Sleep
I have often wondered if the majority of mankind ever pause to reflect upon the occasionally titanic significance of dreams, and of the obscure world to which they belong. ... I have merely set down certain things appealing to me as facts, allowing you to construe them as you will.

All this he tells me — yet I cannot forget what I saw in the sky on the night after Slater died. Lest you think me a biased witness, another pen must add this final testimony, which may perhaps supply the climax you expect. I will quote the following account of the star Nova Persei verbatim from the pages of that eminent astronomical authority, Professor Garrett P. Serviss: "On February 22, 1901, a marvelous new star was discovered by Doctor Anderson of Edinburgh, not very far from Algol. No star had been visible at that point before. Within twenty-four hours the stranger had become so bright that it outshone Capella. In a week or two it had visibly faded, and in the course of a few months it was hardly discernible with the naked eye."

Lovecraft used Serviss' article (above), but he didn't have to go that far. When he was a little boy, he almost certainly saw that star. So did everyone in Providence, though Chrispy can't say that HPL recorded it in his astronomy writing, only years later in his notable story. If he and grandfather Whipple read the paper at all that week, they would have seen the headline below in one of the newspapers. This actually comes from the weekly circular printed by the Providence Journal called Manufacturers and Farmers, as the Providence Journal is difficult to find online.

Unfortunately, Chrispy does not have time to type up the entire article, but it can be read by clicking one of the links.

In Providence, Professor Upton and his staff were at Ladd Observatory, but Frank Seagreave lived on Benefit Street and constantly monitored the skies independently. He is mentioned prominently in the article, and very well known in his day.


No comments:


Blog Archive


Google Analytics