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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: October ::
Re: Hamlet and the Supernova of 1572
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1053  Wednesday, 28 October 1998.

From:           Peter Nockolds <
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Date:           Tue, 27 Oct 1998 19:05:37 +0000
Subject:        Please cross-post the message below

From:           Donald W. Olson <
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Date:           Monday, 26 Oct 1998 15:57:08 -0600
Subject:        Re: Hamlet and the Supernova of 1572
Sender: History of Astronomy Discussion Group <
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A footnote in the Arden Shakespeare edition of Hamlet suggests that
Capella may be the star described in Act 1, Scene 1, of the play.  Peter
Nockolds has pointed out this footnote, and we also mentioned this
footnote in our current Sky & Telescope article:

Donald W. Olson, Marilynn S. Olson, and Russell L. Doescher, "The Stars
of Hamlet," Sky & Telescope (November, 1998), pp. 68-73.

The information in the Arden edition is derived from a journal article:

G. T. Buckley, "What Star Was Westward from the Pole?"  Notes and
Queries, Volume 208 (November, 1963), pp. 412-413.

Buckley assigns the celestial configuration of Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 1,
to what is described as the "midwinter" season -- Buckley specifically
mentions the date of January 19.

Our discussion of the Arden footnote and our reasons for preferring the
month of November (just before Advent) to January (just after Advent)
are detailed in our Sky & Telescope article.  A date in the middle of
November, Julian calendar, places the location of Tycho's supernova in a
position
"westward from the pole" at 1 a.m., local mean time.

As we also note in our current Sky & Telescope article, a number of
possible connections between Tycho Brahe, Thomas Digges, and William
Shakespeare were explored by Owen Gingerich in a previous Sky &
Telescope article:

Owen Gingerich, "Great Conjunctions, Tycho, and Shakespeare," Sky &
Telescope (May, 1981), pp. 394-395.

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Donald W. Olson
Department of Physics
Southwest Texas State University
San Marcos, TX 78666

phone:  512-245-2131 (dept. secretary)
phone:  512-245-3643 (DWO office)
FAX:  512-245-8233
e-mail:   
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