Celestial Sleuth: Using Astronomy to Solve Mysteries in Art, by Donald W. Olson

By Donald W. Olson

For a basic viewers drawn to fixing mysteries in artwork, heritage, and literature utilizing the tools of technology, 'forensic astronomy' is an exhilarating new box of exploration. Astronomical calculations are the foundation of the experiences, that have the good thing about bringing to readers either evocative pictures and a greater realizing of the skies.

Weather evidence, volcano reports, topography, tides, historic letters and diaries, well-known work, army documents, and the pleasant suggestions of specialists in similar fields upload sort, intensity, and curiosity to the paintings. the selected themes are chosen for his or her extensive public popularity and intrigue, related to artists akin to Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Edvard Munch, and Ansel Adams; old occasions similar to the conflict of Marathon, the loss of life of Julius Caesar, the yankee Revolution, and international warfare II; and literary authors similar to Chaucer, Shakespeare, Joyce, and Mary Shelley. This publication units out to respond to those mysteries indicated with the capacity and services of astronomy, establishing the door to a richer adventure of human tradition and its courting with nature.

Each topic is punctiliously analyzed. as an instance utilizing the research of sky work via Vincent van Gogh, the analytical strategy would come with:
- computing device calculations of old skies above France within the nineteenth century
- discovering and quoting the clues present in translations of unique letters by way of Van Gogh
- making web site visits to France to figure out the best destinations whilst Van Gogh organize his easel and what celestial items are depicted.

For every one historic occasion prompted by way of astronomy, there will be a distinct form of secret to be solved. as an instance:
- How can the part of the Moon and time of moonrise aid to give an explanation for a turning aspect of the yank Civil conflict - the deadly wounding of Stonewall Jackson at Chancellorsville in 1863?

For each one literary connection with astronomy, it was firm which celestial items have been being defined and making an issue that the writer is describing an exact occasion. for instance, what used to be the date of the moonlit scene while Mary Shelley first had the assumption for her novel “Frankenstein?”

These and extra enjoyable riddles will enchant and pleasure the fan of paintings and astronomy.

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Extra info for Celestial Sleuth: Using Astronomy to Solve Mysteries in Art, History and Literature

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All of these sources describe a series of gales and winter storms in late January 1883, when Monet was trying unsuccessfully to work at Le Havre. But, after the move to Étretat, the weather improved markedly during the 4-day period, including February 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th, described as a “very pleasant spell” in a Times of London review at the end of the week. On February 7th, rainstorms began again. From the astronomical analysis we knew that the setting Sun depicted in W817 corresponded to a date between February 3 and February 7, 1883.

If we could find the house, we could determine the direction of view in the painting. Knowing which part of the sky Vincent depicted might then allow us to identify the bright object in the twilight sky. Four paintings by Vincent van Gogh have emerged as the most familiar and often-reproduced images of the night sky. Cafe Terrace at Night and Starry Night Over the Rhône feature the heavens above Arles, a town in southern France. In nearby St. Rémy he created his famous Starry Night as well as Road with Cypress and Star.

The highway from Lyon toward Paris travels generally toward the northwest, but the road swings toward the north just west of the town of Tarare. The red “X” marks the probable location of Turner’s stagecoach accident on the snowy road just below the summit of Mont Tarare. This map appeared as Plate 68 in Charles Monin’s Petit Atlas National, published in 1835 especially for the mountain road over Simplon Pass in Switzerland, supervised the design of this route on the slopes of Mont Tarare (Céard 1820: 50).

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