Astronomy in the Early 20th Century


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Holly Peterson

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This may seem like a dumb question, but would the typical lower-class Irishman in the Gilded Age be educated enough to know the actual name of the north star (Polaris) or would he merely refer to it as the 'North Star?' He is a sailor/fisherman whose ancestors could possibly have had to know about the stars for navigation. Any help would be greatly appreciated, but feel free to delete this if it's too off-topic.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Schooling was far too basic (and generally still is!) to provide astronomy in the curriculum, but since ancient times the North Star has been known to all travelers who need to navigate across land or sea. It has gone by many names and your Irish fisherman might have been most familiar with a Gaelic version, but otherwise he would have called it the North Star, Pole Star, Lodestar, or Seaman's Star.
 
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Holly Peterson

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Wow, thanks for the info, Bob! It's good you let me know, 'cause before the characters in the story were all calling the star 'Polaris,' which just didn't seem to fit for the time period.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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"Arrrr, there be the Lodestar. Steer for her and we'll be true for north"
"Belay that, matey! I'll bet a pint o' grog that ye've spotted Delta Velorum A, which be a Main Sequence Dwarf. Everybody knows that the Lodestar be an F7 Bright Giant. Arrrr."
smile.gif
 

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