From Iceland to Saturn in the Seventeenth Century and back again

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.Pierre Gassendi

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…)

SaturnA 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…

Giovanni CassiniChristiaan Huygens

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6 thoughts on “From Iceland to Saturn in the Seventeenth Century and back again

  1. One question first Sir A, is your hair as swishable as Giovanni’s ? I do like to see a Man with hair cascading down his back, … um….not growing on his back, …. that’s gross… but ‘twould be lovely to just play with, plait maybe … But my mind has wandered, I would love to visit Saturn and back again, I wonder is there’ll ever be a time when we can ‘visit’ other planets, if not bodily then minds-wise, would be exciting methinks, but for the time being, knowing that a space probe is out there, sending back messages is just as awe inspiring. xPenx

    (Giovanni looks pleased with himself, I bet he’s just found a great hair conditioner)

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    • Oh, I wish it were, Lady P… Giovanni’s hair is so better looking than mine is. Mine is just growing. Outwards. Eek. I suppose I could use my ‘Twilight’ conditioner (from a while ago), I think that was the one Giovanni was using, but I don’t think it will help…
      And yes, Saturn has a unique pull. I’d love to go too! :D

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  2. You have certainly done your homework on this fine posting Aquatom, I have enjoyed reading through the whole piece and the added graphics enhance every word, yes you could have seen the portrait of Giovanni or perhaps even have met him in another time, the quest is widening and evry little snippet of information will lead you further into the adventure… Keep searching my great friend and one day you will find all the answers that you are seeking :)

    Androgoth

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  3. Wondering if you have discovered any links between Saturn and Iceland. I keep getting theses visions and through my art only I conjecture some connection.

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