Friday, August 19, 2011

Young Lovecraft and Astronomy

For this post, Chrispy will cast modesty aside. In earlier posts, Chrispy uncovered nearly the exact dates that Lovecraft almost died early in 1910. This was based on an obscure and sudden comet appearance, Comet 1910A.

He lost a great deal of weight, likely due to complications from measles and lung infection. He made a slow recovery, but was feeling well enough by the time of Halley's comet to go out at night by trolley and view it with his telescope and sketch it. With the help of several friends, mainly Steve and Dave, the precise point where he did his sketches was determined.

The articles below show the hysteria over Halley's comet which only phased Lovecraft in that he would have been appalled by what he would call ignorance. Note the "Comet pills" in the article below.

He went back and forth on Percival Lowell and his theory. This parallels public articles. Lowell was a powerful, popular figure and astronomers did not cross him lightly. However, as new telescopes went on line, Lowell's power faded, and astronomers were more vocal. This echoes the articles Lovecraft did in newspapers, as he mostly responded to the breaking news of astronomy.

What is becoming clear is that Lovecraft adored astronomy, but somehow he had a disconnect. He was a reasonably good observer, and a reasonably good writer conveying astronomical knowledge, but he did not become a good theoretician. Even with all the data he accumulated from hours of observations, Chrispy has not yet detected one original theory has been found in his writing - not even a bad one.

(His presentation of the theory of a ninth planet was bold, but it was a belief that many held based on a number of theories of the time. Lovecraft poeticized his Yuggoth, his near-contemporary Clyde Tombaugh searched for it.)

Can one fault his telescope? Not really. He read copious articles in professional and amateur journals. He associated with the staff at Ladd observatory, even using it from time to time. If he volunteered to crunch data, no evidence has been found.

This is not meant to be critical, as Lovecraft had a stack of issues between 1904 and 1911 that were daunting. He fell quickly behind in math comprehension - not a natural proclivity - and never recovered. He grasped other people's ideas rapidly, but could not use them to create his own. This may be an inherited Phillips trait, as all his successful Phillips' ancestors and relatives appeared to do just this. They were excellent managers (Chief Operating Officers of today) such as Theodore W Phillips and his adopted son also Theodore, or his grandfather who took other people's ideas and created wealth from them, or sadly, like Edwin his Uncle, saw opportunity but could not capitalize on it.

The articles below should expand into more readable views if you click them.

No comments:


Blog Archive


Google Analytics