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From: m.driussi@genie.com
Subject: (urth) 5HC constellations
Date: Tue, 26 May 98 05:14:00 GMT

Tania Ruiz,

Thanks for your comments on my notes re the constellations of THE

Re: the pinkness of light from the star.  Right, there is no such
thing (in orthodox astronomy) as a "pink star."  (This pink detail
is from an observer upon the planetary surface, a world with a
breathable atmosphere--he may be comparing the star to Sol rather
than an absolute scale.)

"What sets the color of the sky is another thing you can't find
easily in textbooks.  The blue of the cloudless sky results from
scattering by the very molecules in the air.  Long wavelengths (red)
are scattered much less easily, but short-wavelength blue is
scattered all over the sky.  Obviously, then, the sky color depends
on the available wavelengths--that is, on the color of the star.  If
the star is, say, red, the sky will look reddish, as there's no blue
to scatter.  With an orangish sun, the sky may look more greenish
than blue.  This effect will only appear under extreme cases,
however, as even most `red' stars look white to the eye"
(Gillett, WORLD-BUILDING, 1996, p. 88).

"A typical `red' dwarf, for example . . . The star's light won't look
red at all, and the eye is sufficiently adaptable that scenes will
look normal . . . Quite a few science fiction stories have spoken of
the lurid light of a red sun . . . But this `local color' is just not
true!" (ibid, p. 129).

HOWEVER--not to get into a "what did Wolfe know and when did he know
it," nor examine the possible "bad science" of this fiction, rather
I'm just pointing at one of these scant clues in the text and wondering
if it points toward a non-G type star.

Re: Shadow Child as the Rift, with two bright eyes as Albireo.
Interesting point, and I like the use of the Rift, but is Albireo a
"naked eye" binary?  Peterson Field Guide STARS AND PLANETS notes:
"Albireo--Beta Cygni . . . is one of the prettiest doubles.
Binoculars split it into orange and blue components."

Re: "Dead Man" (planet) as Mars.  I agree, but I didn't mention that
(or did I?) because the parallels between the alien star and Sol
systems begin to get, well, rather twinning.  St. Anne/St. Croix is
obviously rather close to Terra/Luna.  A planet called "Swift" seems
likely in the orbital position of Mercury; "the Dead Man" echoes Mars,
the ancient names of which point to "the flayed god"; then there is
"the Snow Woman" which sounds enough like Venus (whose brightness and
gender could lead to renaming as "Snow Woman").

If it weren't for a character from "Earth" visiting St. A/St. C, I'd
be willing to bet that this system was Sol System.  Because Wolfe is
so fond of tricks like that.

Re: the other star names.  Wolfe sometimes just translates star names
(Greek/Arabic/Latin) into English: Fomalhaut becomes "the Fish's
Mouth" (in TBOTNS) for example.  So I keep meaning to run through
some of the famous star names looking for possible leads.

More bits from PLANETS FOR MAN:

"_Twin planets,_ revolving about a common center of mass, would have
their rotation stopped with respect to each other.  It would be
interesting to speculate on the intellectual development of a life
form on one planet of such a pair.  With another planet, close and
large, with clouds, oceans, and continents clear to the naked eye,
could any egocentric philosophy of the Universe develop?  Would the
urge to reach the companion hasten technological progress?  We can
ask but can offer no answer." (Dole, PLANETS FOR MAN [1964], p. 204).

"If the satellite is comparable in mass to the planet itself, there
is the possibility that it, too, will be habitable.  We will then
have twin habitable planets.  The dimensions of Roche's limit rise
somewhat as the satellite increases in mass, and so does the maximum
distance allowed for a month of 96 hours or less.

[mantis note: because the twins are locked face-to-face, it is their
rotation around their common center that causes local "days"; and as
Dole had determined a 96 hour day as the maximum limit on habitability,
this period now transfers to the "month."]

"Such twin habitable planets would have to be separated by a distance
of not less than 18,000 miles and not more than 100,000 miles"
(ibid, p. 130-131).


*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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