I’ve been questing this evening. Looking for more information to fill in the blanks I have with 1642 and the surrounding years. Although I haven’t filled in any of those blanks with answers, I have filled them with a few more interesting facts and questions. Questions are good, I find, but the answers are obviously better!
My first port of call was Iceland. I was reading through information about the Poetic Edda, which was rediscovered in 1642 in Iceland. The Codex Regius holds many tales of Norse Mythology from between the years 850 to 1300, although the legends probably date further back than that.
My reading of these poems / versus linked me to a word that I feel I should know, and in a way, I do. ‘Boreal (or boreale)’ meaning of or relating to the north; or of or concerning the north wind. (And speaking of the North Wind, and when it doth blow… I’ve been hearing rumours of snow forecasts again recently… just saying, that’s all!) And it is a term I am used to hearing about in the Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights. I have read that these Northern Lights are, on occasion, visible from the UK, and are expected to be even more so coming up to 2013. I shall be keeping my eyes peeled for them, as they are definitely one thing for my bucket list. I’ll have to visit Iceland if I don’t see them from here, but that is another option! Being a Boreal Boy myself is quite handy as they are more likely to be visible in the north, so here’s hoping! Corpus poeticum boreale, or poetry of the old northern tongue, is another link to the Poetic Edda.
The Northern Lights were apparently named by a French astronomer named Pierre Gassendi in 1621, but other sources say they were named by Galileo a couple of years earlier. (Pierre, incidentally, taught someone by the name of Cyrano de Bergerac…)
A few years before that, in 1610, Galileo ‘discovered’ Saturn through a telescope. In 1655, Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, was discovered by Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens (born in 1629), who was a friend of Blaise Pascal, who invented the calculating machine, the predecessor to the computer. Other moons were discovered by another Italian astronomer, Giovanni Cassini a few years later.
Giovanni was born in Perinaldo, in the Republic of Genova, on June 8th 1625, four years before Christiaan (who was born on 14th April 1629 in the Hague). Both men now have the honour of having a mission to explore Saturn and Titan named after them, the Cassini–Huygens space probe, launched back on October 15th 1997. On July 1st 2004 it arrived in Saturn’s orbit. This just goes to show how far reaching discoveries can stretch to. The probe is still sending messages back to Earth, which take over an hour to be sent and received, but what’s an hour in a few hundred years or so?
So. On to my latest question. The portrait of Giovanni strikes a chord with me. Could I have seen it before? It’s possible, but I don’t remember where. I wrote recently about ‘knowing’ someone who I have never met before; and I seem to experience the same feelings with this portrait. Strange, I know. I wonder if Giovanni has any links to Iceland? That’s something for me to look into another day…