hiemal

Cometary Questions: Re-examining the Red Comet

49 posts in this topic

In the midst of my nth re-read and, as always, I noticed a few new things, or saw old things in new lights. In particular, some things about the Dany's comet:

"Jhogo spied it first. 'There,' he said in a hushed voice. Dany looked and saw it, low and in the east." AGoT

I'm not an astronomer, but to me that seems off. Wouldn't that mean that this comet is appearing within the world's orbit? Like, perhaps, where the world Venus would lie in our own world? Either that or that it simply becomes visible at that point?

"The thing in the sky is a comet, sweet child. A Star with a tail, lost in the heavens. It will be gone soon enough, never to be seen again in our lifetimes. Watch and see." ACoK

This seems like remarkably sophisticated knowledge for a medieval setting. Also, I am reconsidering the bolded as ominous foreshadowing rather than a maester's actual opinion. It seems to me that almost every flat-out pronouncement on the nature of reality by the maesters is wrong- either through calculation or actual error.

The upshot is that I am questioning whether or not Dany's comet is actually a comet or something else plummeting sunwards- presumably? We aren't actually told much about its progress or eventual fate as I recall.

Also, this has been bugging me for a while but all of the Tycho Brahe stuff could be more than just nerdy easter eggs? We have Tycho Nestoris of Braavos and we have Tyrion- a noseless dwarf! I'm pretty sure that Tycho lost his nose and wore a silver one AND that he at one point kept a dwarf on a chain at his dinner table. Something to do with Tycho Brahe's discovery that comets were not local phenomenon?

Tinfoil- maybe the "comet" is not a comet, but something that is actually within the atmosphere of the planet!

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Westeros is ahead scientifically compared to the medieval world. GRRM has mentioned that.

Fun note on the Tycho Brahe/Tycho Nestoris/Tyrion connection. I could definitely see GRRM doing that deliberately.

No clue on whether the location of the comet when Jhogo spots it is off in an astronomy sense.

For now I'm going to stay with it being a comet, just because I have no idea what else it would be.

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The comet may herald the change of seasons, among other things.

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Posted (edited)

2 hours ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

Westeros is ahead scientifically compared to the medieval world. GRRM has mentioned that.

Fun note on the Tycho Brahe/Tycho Nestoris/Tyrion connection. I could definitely see GRRM doing that deliberately.

No clue on whether the location of the comet when Jhogo spots it is off in an astronomy sense.

For now I'm going to stay with it being a comet, just because I have no idea what else it would be.

My most tinfoil-and-spit guess, my stab at Grand Unified Theory of Everything Westeros at this point regarding a (faux)comet:

The "second moon" refers to a Venus analog, the evenstar and the morningstar, the Maiden and the Stranger and the Blood Betrayal; representing the slaying/usurping of the Amethyst Empress by her brother and that this celestial body could thus be a kind of heavenly embodiment of a Persephone/Hades duality governed by a now-irregular orbit and a struggle between Ice and Fire. In re-enactment of the original event, as events below seem to be doing in some regards, perhaps this body has thrown a bit of itself towards the sun?

As for the "comet" being something within the atmosphere- in that case it would serve to reinforce that things are not as they appear? It was just something I felt should be mentioned. GRRM seems to enjoy turning expectations on their heads so I could see him doing that with comets although having them be red herrings would be more economical.

Granted, most of the above tinfoil could as easily fit into a more traditional comet, even and perhaps especially the Tycho Brahe stuff and to an actual second, displaced moon as well. I just like to explore all of the possibilities.

Edited by hiemal

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11 minutes ago, 300 H&H Mag said:

The comet may herald the change of seasons, among other things.

Without a doubt. The question is how many other things?

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My guess is something or someone (or a combination thereof) may be drawing the comet towards the planet.  If this is the case, then after it is "seized" and drawn to the planet, the comet would start to orbit the planet, and it's appearances would become more frequent, and the comet would appear larger in the sky after each subsequent appearance.  And if the comet was in fact orbiting the planet than it would in effect become a second moon, since by definition a moon is any natural satellite that orbits the planet.  

My guess is on the next pass, the comet will make landfall, and if it follows the path that it took the last time, then there is the possibility that it could make landfall just beyond the Wall, into the glacial shelf called the Heart of Winter.

As for the magic that could seize a comet and slowly drag it into the planet's orbit, I would expect it would have taken a large scale sacrifice of many mystical bloodlines.  Hmm, perhaps something called the Doom of Valyria?

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Posted (edited)

4 hours ago, hiemal said:

In the midst of my nth re-read and, as always, I noticed a few new things, or saw old things in new lights. In particular, some things about the Dany's comet:

"Jhogo spied it first. 'There,' he said in a hushed voice. Dany looked and saw it, low and in the east." AGoT

I'm not an astronomer, but to me that seems off. Wouldn't that mean that this comet is appearing within the world's orbit? Like, perhaps, where the world Venus would lie in our own world? Either that or that it simply becomes visible at that point?

"The thing in the sky is a comet, sweet child. A Star with a tail, lost in the heavens. It will be gone soon enough, never to be seen again in our lifetimes. Watch and see." ACoK

This seems like remarkably sophisticated knowledge for a medieval setting. Also, I am reconsidering the bolded as ominous foreshadowing rather than a maester's actual opinion. It seems to me that almost every flat-out pronouncement on the nature of reality by the maesters is wrong- either through calculation or actual error.

The upshot is that I am questioning whether or not Dany's comet is actually a comet or something else plummeting sunwards- presumably? We aren't actually told much about its progress or eventual fate as I recall.

Also, this has been bugging me for a while but all of the Tycho Brahe stuff could be more than just nerdy easter eggs? We have Tycho Nestoris of Braavos and we have Tyrion- a noseless dwarf! I'm pretty sure that Tycho lost his nose and wore a silver one AND that he at one point kept a dwarf on a chain at his dinner table. Something to do with Tycho Brahe's discovery that comets were not local phenomenon?

Tinfoil- maybe the "comet" is not a comet, but something that is actually within the atmosphere of the planet!

Haven't read the comments yet, maybe it is all figured out, but it is weird.  For different reasons to me though.  If it is inside the planets orbit it should behave like Venus and always be near the Sun.  At sunset, it should be in the west, if we see it at all.  I made an ass out of myself once saying it was, but was wrong.  How does anything rise out of the east at sunset.  I may be missing something simple, I am just confused at the moment.    

 

 

Edit after a minute of thought:  the comet is slingshoting around the sun in the opposite direction Venus orbits.  

Edited by Unchained

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, Unchained said:

Haven't read the comments yet, maybe it is all figured out, but it is weird.  For different reasons to me though.  If it is inside the planets orbit it should behave like Venus and always be near the Sun.  At sunset, it should be in the west, if we see it at all.  I made an ass out of myself once saying it was, but was wrong.  How does anything rise out of the east at sunset.  I may be missing something simple, I am just confused at the moment.    

 

 

Edit after a minute of thought:  the comet is slingshoting around the sun in the opposite direction Venus orbits.  

The comet's appearance isn't rising so much as appearing, a symbolic virgin birth? And I think the morning star/evening star dynamic may be ambiguous and that is reflected here?

That's an interesting idea and could correlate Venus/Maiden's retrograde rotation with a comet strike/Blood Betrayal event and the culprit or parts of it continuing on for future strikes?

Edited by hiemal

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1 hour ago, Frey family reunion said:

My guess is something or someone (or a combination thereof) may be drawing the comet towards the planet.  If this is the case, then after it is "seized" and drawn to the planet, the comet would start to orbit the planet, and it's appearances would become more frequent, and the comet would appear larger in the sky after each subsequent appearance.  And if the comet was in fact orbiting the planet than it would in effect become a second moon, since by definition a moon is any natural satellite that orbits the planet.  

My guess is on the next pass, the comet will make landfall, and if it follows the path that it took the last time, then there is the possibility that it could make landfall just beyond the Wall, into the glacial shelf called the Heart of Winter.

As for the magic that could seize a comet and slowly drag it into the planet's orbit, I would expect it would have taken a large scale sacrifice of many mystical bloodlines.  Hmm, perhaps something called the Doom of Valyria?

Interesting! Would that make this impact a symbolic opposite to Starfall?

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5 hours ago, hiemal said:

In the midst of my nth re-read and, as always, I noticed a few new things, or saw old things in new lights. In particular, some things about the Dany's comet:

"Jhogo spied it first. 'There,' he said in a hushed voice. Dany looked and saw it, low and in the east." AGoT

I'm not an astronomer, but to me that seems off. Wouldn't that mean that this comet is appearing within the world's orbit? Like, perhaps, where the world Venus would lie in our own world? Either that or that it simply becomes visible at that point?

"The thing in the sky is a comet, sweet child. A Star with a tail, lost in the heavens. It will be gone soon enough, never to be seen again in our lifetimes. Watch and see." ACoK

This seems like remarkably sophisticated knowledge for a medieval setting. Also, I am reconsidering the bolded as ominous foreshadowing rather than a maester's actual opinion. It seems to me that almost every flat-out pronouncement on the nature of reality by the maesters is wrong- either through calculation or actual error.

The upshot is that I am questioning whether or not Dany's comet is actually a comet or something else plummeting sunwards- presumably? We aren't actually told much about its progress or eventual fate as I recall.

Also, this has been bugging me for a while but all of the Tycho Brahe stuff could be more than just nerdy easter eggs? We have Tycho Nestoris of Braavos and we have Tyrion- a noseless dwarf! I'm pretty sure that Tycho lost his nose and wore a silver one AND that he at one point kept a dwarf on a chain at his dinner table. Something to do with Tycho Brahe's discovery that comets were not local phenomenon?

Tinfoil- maybe the "comet" is not a comet, but something that is actually within the atmosphere of the planet!

I love the Tycho Brahe connections!  I participated in NaNoWriMo last November and wrote my small novel based on Tycho Brahe's life and accomplishments with some fantasy elements rolled in.  Tycho actually contributed to a move towards modern science and part of his good fortune was to witness a Great Comet.  However, his observations and measurements of it proved that it was outside the obits of the known planets.  He also witnessed and measured a supernova, which he proved to be fixed in its location and part of the field of stars that make up the Milky Way.  This blew the minds of everyone because the church and conventional wisdom stated that the stars in the heavens are immutable and unchanging.  

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1 hour ago, Unchained said:

Haven't read the comments yet, maybe it is all figured out, but it is weird.  For different reasons to me though.  If it is inside the planets orbit it should behave like Venus and always be near the Sun.  At sunset, it should be in the west, if we see it at all.  I made an ass out of myself once saying it was, but was wrong.  How does anything rise out of the east at sunset.  I may be missing something simple, I am just confused at the moment.    

 

 

Edit after a minute of thought:  the comet is slingshoting around the sun in the opposite direction Venus orbits.  

I  agree that if the comet is inside GRRths orbit it should always either follow the sun over the western horizon or herald the suns appearance in the morning.

 

But lots of thing rise in the east.  The full moon rises in the east as the sun is setting in the west.  Mars, Jupiter and Saturn also can rise in the east while the sun is setting (or shortly after sunset).

 

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Posted (edited)

10 minutes ago, White Ravens said:

I love the Tycho Brahe connections!  I participated in NaNoWriMo last November and wrote my small novel based on Tycho Brahe's life and accomplishments with some fantasy elements rolled in.  Tycho actually contributed to a move towards modern science and part of his good fortune was to witness a Great Comet.  However, his observations and measurements of it proved that it was outside the obits of the known planets.  He also witnessed and measured a supernova, which he proved to be fixed in its location and part of the field of stars that make up the Milky Way.  This blew the minds of everyone because the church and conventional wisdom stated that the stars in the heavens are immutable and unchanging.  

Exactly! This, combined with the maesters' frustration with the magically altered seasons,  led me to speculate that the comet actually might NOT be outside, but an atmospheric thing like Aristotle postulated. GRRM thematically pooping on expectations of a rational universe, comets as another symptom of the world gone mad?

Edited by hiemal

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12 hours ago, hiemal said:

In the midst of my nth re-read and, as always, I noticed a few new things, or saw old things in new lights. In particular, some things about the Dany's comet:

"Jhogo spied it first. 'There,' he said in a hushed voice. Dany looked and saw it, low and in the east." AGoT

I'm not an astronomer, but to me that seems off. Wouldn't that mean that this comet is appearing within the world's orbit? Like, perhaps, where the world Venus would lie in our own world? Either that or that it simply becomes visible at that point?

If it is that low in the east, it is likely in an internal orbit about the Sun, think on Mercury or Venus which are only seen low in the east or west.

12 hours ago, hiemal said:

"The thing in the sky is a comet, sweet child. A Star with a tail, lost in the heavens. It will be gone soon enough, never to be seen again in our lifetimes. Watch and see." ACoK

This seems like remarkably sophisticated knowledge for a medieval setting.

This is what comets were thought in antiquity. Just temporary events and many thought they were atmospheric phenomena (thanks Aristotle for that). Halley was the first to notice that a certain comet appeared at regular intervals. Anyway, most comets are seen only once.

 

12 hours ago, hiemal said:

Also, I am reconsidering the bolded as ominous foreshadowing rather than a maester's actual opinion. It seems to me that almost every flat-out pronouncement on the nature of reality by the maesters is wrong- either through calculation or actual error.

The upshot is that I am questioning whether or not Dany's comet is actually a comet or something else plummeting sunwards- presumably? We aren't actually told much about its progress or eventual fate as I recall.

Apparently it was seen early evening as it progressed. Comets can have prograde or retrograde orbits.

Now, I never heard of a red comet. Most are white with a streak of blue. A red comet heralds the return of dragons. It is known.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

14 hours ago, hiemal said:

I

tinfoil- maybe the "comet" is not a comet, but something that is actually within the atmosphere of the planet!

Or a sun-spear rising in the east at dawn joining with Venus the morning star to make a sword?

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2010/10/25/ghost-moon/#.WMvzeaLauUk

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conjunction_(astronomy)

Edited by LynnS

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15 hours ago, hiemal said:

In the midst of my nth re-read and, as always, I noticed a few new things, or saw old things in new lights. In particular, some things about the Dany's comet:

"Jhogo spied it first. 'There,' he said in a hushed voice. Dany looked and saw it, low and in the east." AGoT

I'm not an astronomer, but to me that seems off. Wouldn't that mean that this comet is appearing within the world's orbit? Like, perhaps, where the world Venus would lie in our own world? Either that or that it simply becomes visible at that point?

"The thing in the sky is a comet, sweet child. A Star with a tail, lost in the heavens. It will be gone soon enough, never to be seen again in our lifetimes. Watch and see." ACoK

This seems like remarkably sophisticated knowledge for a medieval setting. Also, I am reconsidering the bolded as ominous foreshadowing rather than a maester's actual opinion. It seems to me that almost every flat-out pronouncement on the nature of reality by the maesters is wrong- either through calculation or actual error.

The upshot is that I am questioning whether or not Dany's comet is actually a comet or something else plummeting sunwards- presumably? We aren't actually told much about its progress or eventual fate as I recall.

Also, this has been bugging me for a while but all of the Tycho Brahe stuff could be more than just nerdy easter eggs? We have Tycho Nestoris of Braavos and we have Tyrion- a noseless dwarf! I'm pretty sure that Tycho lost his nose and wore a silver one AND that he at one point kept a dwarf on a chain at his dinner table. Something to do with Tycho Brahe's discovery that comets were not local phenomenon?

Tinfoil- maybe the "comet" is not a comet, but something that is actually within the atmosphere of the planet!

Interesting observations. There are some uncanny similarities between Braeh and Tyrion, including Brahe's marriage to a commoner and his resentment of the Danish court for not recognizing his brilliance. 

As to where Venus in the real world would be found in ASOIAF, I submit that Venus does exist in ASOIAF. Several celestial bodies described in ASOIAF mirror our own. The George gives us a little ASOIAF astronomy here...

Quote

So many stars, he thought as he trudged up the slope through pines and firs and ash. Maester Luwin had taught him his stars as a boy in Winterfell; he had learned the names of the twelve houses of heaven and the rulers of each; he could find the seven wanderers sacred to the Faith; he was old friends with the Ice Dragon, the Shadowcat, the Moonmaid, and the Sword of the Morning. All those he shared with Ygritte, but not some of the others. We look up at the same stars, and see such different things. The King's Crown was the Cradle, to hear her tell it; the Stallion was the Horned Lord; the red wanderer that septons preached was sacred to their Smith up here was called the Thief. And when the Thief was in the Moonmaid, that was a propitious time for a man to steal a woman, Ygritte insisted. "Like the night you stole me. The Thief was bright that night."

Jon III, Storm 26

The twelve houses of heaven correspond to the zodiac; the seven wanders correspond to the classical planets of antiquity (i.e., the Sun and Moon and the five planets visible to the naked eye, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn), and the red wanderer corresponds to Mars. The Moonmaid most likely corresponds to Virgo since there is a whole bunch of astrology mumbo jumbo about when Mars is in Virgo. 

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9 hours ago, hiemal said:

Exactly! This, combined with the maesters' frustration with the magically altered seasons,  led me to speculate that the comet actually might NOT be outside, but an atmospheric thing like Aristotle postulated. GRRM thematically pooping on expectations of a rational universe, comets as another symptom of the world gone mad?

Hmm...

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2 hours ago, rotting sea cow said:

If it is that low in the east, it is likely in an internal orbit about the Sun, think on Mercury or Venus which are only seen low in the east or west.

This is what comets were thought in antiquity. Just temporary events and many thought they were atmospheric phenomena (thanks Aristotle for that). Halley was the first to notice that a certain comet appeared at regular intervals. Anyway, most comets are seen only once.

 

Apparently it was seen early evening as it progressed. Comets can have prograde or retrograde orbits.

Now, I never heard of a red comet. Most are white with a streak of blue. A red comet heralds the return of dragons. It is known.

It is known. 

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1 hour ago, LynnS said:

I think it's more likely that the comet is a harbinger.  The return of dragons means war since whomever has one, has the advantage.  Red comets don't exist in reality but they are depicted historically.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/comets-play-role-history-civilization-francisco-cruz

What a great article. Thanks for linking it.

I especially like this part

  • Let's accompany one of these dirty snowballs that was catapulted out of the Oort Cloud on its journey towards the Sun. As the distance decreases, the temperature increases. The comet gases vaporize and form an extended, thin atmosphere: the coma. This reaches a diameter of several 100,000 kilometers. The comet is now nearly at the level of Saturn's orbit and can be discovered from Earth. (Not death)

And there are some similar references to the the astrological houses that @Lost Melnibonean mentioned, a comparison I have always loved.

And the references to a comet being a s a sword, which is always a fun topic https://bobmoler.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/69344main_comet_types-lg.jpg

And definitely the Tyrion-Tycho-Tycho comparisons. That is a new one to me and it just links so nicely in to the story.

 

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53 minutes ago, The Fattest Leech said:

The comet gases vaporize and form an extended, thin atmosphere: the coma.

Does this change our interpretation of Bran's 'coma dream' and what he may have spied behind the 'curtain of light'..? ;)

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