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“Wacky And Wonderful Misconceptions About Our Universe”
“It would make a perfect Christmas present”
Review in Fortean Times, December 2018
“I learned plenty of solid facts about the universe whilst having a laugh at the weird ideas of amateur cosmologists – such as the Holy Foreskin of Jesus being transformed into the ring around Saturn as proposed by a 17th century monk. A great read!”
Over many centuries there have been a lot of wacky ideas put forward about the structure of the universe as well as the planets, moons, stars and galaxies in it including speculation about the final destination of the Holy Foreskin of Jesus Christ. Intrigued? Then read on...
In 1835 it was reported that amazing flying aliens had been observed on the Moon as shown above. In later years herds of ‘lunar bison’ were seen stampeding over the floor of the crater Plato as well as swarms of giant insects.
The Earth has been believed to be flat, hollow and even inside-out with all the universe contained in a hollow sphere within which we live and with the antipodes above our heads.
A Martian Fighting Machine according to H G Wells’ book “War Of The Worlds”.
In the 1930s attempts were made to fire rockets vertically upwards from Germany to land in Australia!
Belief in Martians was widespread until the 1950s because their huge canals were ‘seen’ on the face of Mars carrying precious water from the polar caps to the equator. Even the planet Venus was ‘observed’ to have canals.
Sir William Herschel, arguably one of the greatest astronomers of all time, believed that the Sun is hollow and that intelligent aliens live inside on a cool globe covered in oceans and vegetation.
The idea that the Sun is cold was revived when the Rev. Philip Francis went on television with Sir Patrick Moore in 1972 to explain why the Sun is cold - see http://bit.ly/2oaNJ0M.
Francis wrote a book “The Temperate Sun” and below we see my best friend enjoying the illusion of heat coming from a cold Sun whilst reading the Rev. Francis’s book.
Johannes Kepler believed that the planet Jupiter was home to a vast armada of sailing ships and that the inhabitants of Jupiter grow huge quantities of hemp.
Charles Fourier who lived between 1772 and 1837 claimed that the force holding the planets in orbit around the Sun is sexual attraction and not gravity. Each planet is bisexual having male sexual attractive parts at their north poles and female attractive parts at the south poles. The Aurora Borealis is, he claimed, ‘sexual emanations’ flooding into space to fertilize the sex organs of other planets.
When planets “mate” using these emanations they produce the plants and animals on that planet. For example, the Mexican Tuberose plant is, according to Fourier, the result of the exchanges of sexual emanations from the north pole of Uranus with Earth’s southern pole and the southern pole of the Sun. This interplanetary threesome produced a beautiful white flowering plant.
The Aetherius Society believes that the planets of our Solar System are all inhabited and that they are ruled by an Interplanetary Parliament located on Saturn where it is based in ‘The Home Of Wisdom’. According to the Aetherius Society the inhabitants of Saturn are featureless spheres about forty feet in diameter.
Whilst on the subject of the ringed planet Saturn...
In the 17th century Father Leo Allatius wrote a treatise whose title translates as “A Discussion of the Foreskin of Our Lord Jesus Christ” claiming that the Holy Foreskin ascended to heaven with Jesus and became the ring around Saturn. Unsurprisingly, this is not the current theory explaining the origin of Saturn’s ring system!
The most accomplished astronomer of the pre-telescopic age was arguably Tycho Brahe. He had his nose sliced off in a duel aged twenty over a disagreement on how to solve a mathematical problem. Thereafter he wore a brass prosthetic nose for everyday wear but probably had gold and silver noses for special occasions. He had a pet elk which he treated like his best friend. Sadly, the elk got blind drunk at a rowdy party, fell down the stairs and died of its injuries. Tycho Brahe died in 1601 of a burst bladder because he was at a royal banquet and etiquette forbade him to leave the table before the King of Denmark arose - by which time it was too late!
Shakespeare was probably inspired to write Hamlet by the story of Tycho Brahe’s life.
At left we see an image of Mimas, a minor moon in orbit around Saturn. Is the remarkable resemblance to the Star Wars ‘Death Star’ a coincidence? The ‘Death Star’ was created by George Lucas before any pictures of Mimas had been obtained - spooky or what!
Is our Moon covered in ice to a depth of 150 miles as believed by the Nazi party in the 1930s or is it a mirror reflecting the continents of our Earth as believed by some of the ancient Greek astronomers?
George Ellery Hale was a wealthy and wildly enthusiastic astronomer who had a huge privately funded telescope built on Mount Palomar - see picture at right. Throughout his life, whenever he was troubled or needed to make an important decision an elf would appear and give Hale advice which he relied upon for most of his eccentric life. Had this occurrence become widespread it could have been called the “National ‘Elf Service” (sorry!)
On the dwarf planet Ceres there is a landslide that looks uncannily like Bart Simpson! He is not the only quirky personality to be associated with Ceres because in 1967 an alien from that distant lump of rock arrived on Earth calling herself ‘Princess Moon-Owl’. Those who met her described her as very tall and covered in feathers. She also had two glassy hypnotic eyes and stank of rotten eggs.
The blurry pictures shown at left are the best views of the mysterious dwarf planet Ceres obtained by the Hubble Space Telescope showing a brilliant white spot on its surface as it rotates. What could this be? An alien structure glinting in the light of the distant Sun - Princess Moon Owl’s sumptuous palace maybe?
All is revealed in my book!
This book assumes no prior knowledge of astronomy by the reader and is illustrated with over one hundred pictures - many in colour - making it suitable for a wide readership.