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LmL

The Astronomy Behind the Legends of Planetos

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Everyone that said something nice about this thread that I didn't mention by name, a big tremendous thank you to all of you. This response has been more than I had ever hoped for, and every single person that says something nice is validating the last few weeks of frenetic researching and writing, so it means a lot. I'm only hoping to return some of the enjoyment I have taken from many great threads here on the board, so I'm glad to succeed to some degree there. :)

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Most people will recall the Shoemaker-Levy comet that collided Jupiter in 1994.



Calculations showed that its unusual fragmented form was due to a previous closer approach to Jupiter in July 1992. At that time, the orbit of Shoemaker–Levy 9 passed within Jupiter's Roche limit, and Jupiter's tidal forces had acted to pull apart the comet. The comet was later observed as a series of fragments ranging up to 2 km (1.2 mi) in diameter. These fragments collided with Jupiter's southern hemisphere between July 16 and July 22, 1994, at a speed of approximately 60 km/s (37 mi/s) or 216,000 km/h (134,000 mph). The prominent scars from the impacts were more easily visible than the Great Red Spot and persisted for many months.



Note that this comet was pulled apart by Jupiter's tidal forces and within two years, all the fragments fell on Jupiter. Here is a brief video about this comet



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BllzEsH4SAc


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There's something I don't understand. I agree the book tells us the comet points southeast. But shouldn't it be southwest ?The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. If the sun had a tail, it would point east, so the sun itself would point west. When the comet is first spotted, the sun had set in the west, and the comet appeared low in the east. As time goes by, the comet comes closer to sun, and so begins to be spotted by day, but it follows the sun's direction, so shouldn't it point west too ? It should point east only when the comet has passed the perihelion and gets away from the sun. But Dany crosses the Red Waste just after the dragons have hatched, so at a time the comet should point west.I can't believe GRRM made a mistake like this, so there must be a flaw in my reasoning, but where ?

It's possible he was referring to the part of the sky the comet appeared in from their point of view, and not the specific direction the tail is pointing in. It appeared in the eastern sky (let's say southeast), so southeast is "in the direction of the comet." Also, George needed them to go to Qarth, and that's to the southeast... ;)

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I also thought Planetos circled at an erratic speed around the Sun, but a SSM states Planetos makes one complete revolution around the sun in one year, so indeed it looks like the reason is purely magical and gets the upper hand over astronomical facts. But you intrigue me, what kind of "astrologically significant object" do you have in mind ?

I'm simply saying that rather than the moons holding the axis steady gravitationally and then creating a wobble when one is destroyed, giving us an astronomical explanation, we might have two magical moons holding the magical forces of ice and fire in balance and then magically throwing the seasons of when one is destroyed, giving us an astrological explanation .

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Most people will recall the Shoemaker-Levy comet that collided Jupiter in 1994.

Calculations showed that its unusual fragmented form was due to a previous closer approach to Jupiter in July 1992. At that time, the orbit of Shoemaker–Levy 9 passed within Jupiter's Roche limit, and Jupiter's tidal forces had acted to pull apart the comet. The comet was later observed as a series of fragments ranging up to 2 km (1.2 mi) in diameter. These fragments collided with Jupiter's southern hemisphere between July 16 and July 22, 1994, at a speed of approximately 60 km/s (37 mi/s) or 216,000 km/h (134,000 mph). The prominent scars from the impacts were more easily visible than the Great Red Spot and persisted for many months.

Note that this comet was pulled apart by Jupiter's tidal forces and within two years, all the fragments fell on Jupiter. Here is a brief video about this comet

Nice, that's actually a perfect fit because I think George drew inspiration from two of Jupiter's famous moons to create the two moons of Planetos (a part I'm really excited to get to). Perhaps the original fragmentation (forging in water) happened when the comet passed by the other moon - the remaining one, which I will identify with Ice (as opposed the moon which became the mother of dragons, which I identify with fire). Then it split as it rounded the sun, as I propose, and hit the other moon on the way back. It definitely corroborates the idea that when a comet splits, it keeps mostly the same orbit, and a near miss one times may portend a "hit" in the future.

I for one do not see a conflict with the sun playing the role of comet splitter (the second forging) and then also the role of weilder of Lightbringer the comet as AA. I'm open to alternate ideas for the first two forgings, but I don't see that dual role of the sun to be a big problem.

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I'm simply saying that rather than the moons holding the axis steady gravitationally and then creating a wobble when one is destroyed, giving us an astronomical explanation, we might have two magical moons holding the magical forces of ice and fire in balance and then magically throwing the seasons of when one is destroyed, giving us an astrological explanation .

Ok, I can buy that. I definitely think the magical balance was messed up by the explosion of one moon and the subsequent landing of its pieces on Planetos, that's for sure. I was looking for a more complex answer, but it may be that simple.

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Nice, that's actually a perfect fit because I think George drew inspiration from two of Jupiter's famous moons to create the two moons of Planetos (a part I'm really excited to get to). Perhaps the original fragmentation (forging in water) happened when the comet passed by the other moon - the remaining one, which I will identify with Ice (as opposed the moon which became the mother of dragons, which I identify with fire). Then it split as it rounded the sun, as I propose, and hit the other moon on the way back. It definitely corroborates the idea that when a comet splits, it keeps mostly the same orbit, and a near miss one times may portend a "hit" in the future.

I for one do not see a conflict with the sun playing the role of comet splitter (the second forging) and then also the role of weilder of Lightbringer the comet as AA. I'm open to alternate ideas for the first two forgings, but I don't see that dual role of the sun to be a big problem.

This collision happened in 1994 while George was founding the series. It was a big astronomical event and I do not doubt that George was following it along with the rest of the world.

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This collision happened in 1994 while George was founding the series. It was a big astronomical event and I do not doubt that George was following it with the rest of the world.

Ha! That's awesome. You know what else he was thinking about?

THUNDARR.

You guys are gonna trip on this, I've been holding it back. Hat tip to Durran D in this find:

http://youtu.be/LhAobPugvsk

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J Sargaryen actually messaged me a couple of excerpts from the thread you're talking about, or ones dealing with that same info. You guys have explored the Jon and Dany symbolism waaaay more thoroughly than I could hope to do in the few weeks I spent working on this. I really appreciate all that info.. I'm not going to go line by line at the moment because I'll never wrote the second part otherwise, but difficult it to say a bunch of that stuff is either directly helpful or contextually insightful. Please feel free to send me a link to anything you think would be relevant, I love reading other people's good work here. That's been perhaps the greatest part of this wonderful response to this thread - all the other good thread people are linking to. I'm really enthused to have all these great threads drawing attention again, as they well deserve it.

3 into 1 and 1 into 3 play into this pretty ha ill. I'll be curious to see what you think of where I take that. Put it this way: Lightbringer the sword has three materials in it, I am almost certain. I've found a couple of clever sword composition analogies laying around - check out the section of TWOIAF about the Bones mountains. :)

Tha so again for all the input :)

Edit: addition: mirrored opposites as in the fact that your image is reversed right-to-left in a mirror. The solution mirrors, but inverts, the cause of the problem, or something like that. There's definitely a lot of inverting going on, and subsequent reverting. That's something he used to create cover for some of his mysteries, I feel. Just when you think you have something figured out, you realize you have it upside down. So yes, I'm definitely hip to this concept of inversion.

So that's how inversion works?

Yes the Bone mountains, been down that road. I think there was a thread aroud here about inverse parallels once, I will see if I can find it. Though the author is a bit lazy and never updates.

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Good job OP, that was an enjoyable read.



I like the idea of myths and legends reflecting the impact of natural phenomena and I think you got some good ideas.



However, I believe that, from the author's part, we should look at it more from the cultural angle than from what is/might be scientifically accurate: the author himself has advised not to look for scientific explanations, that "it's magic" (though I don't recall where I read it, if it was in a SSM or an interview) and really, science (and, in a lesser extent, logistics) seems to be his weakest point. So, I don't think he would aim to provide a cohesive explanation of the astronomical/planetological irregularities of his world... On the other hand, I think that the correlations of myths/phenomena and of their repetitive nature with the notion of "cyclical" history and most of all the human way to cope with things they(we) don't understand and (therefore) fear, in short, the creation of myths and legends, are certainly things that the author would exploit.



In this sense, I like (and mostly agree with) the symbolic/representational relations of moon-Nissa Nissa, comets-fiery swords-dragons and so on but, personally, I wouldn't look to find exact, evenmoreso accurate, series of natural phenomena whose reflections should be the myths and legends of ASOIAF world. (Though, I admit, it could make an interesting exercise as it surely makes a nice read.)



As a point of criticism, I believe that applying a celestial events pattern to the street layout of Oldtown is IMO quite reaching - I could buy Sarella's apples if I try hard enough, but you really lost me (for this part) with the former...


I suppose I generally disagree with the idea that "there is an 'on-the-ground' counterpoint to this celestial drama".



Anyway, very nice work in general and looking forward for the rest.

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Yes, this is a valid point. I was thinking about "a giant magical comet destroyed a moon that reigned down magical rocks on the planet" as a 'magical explanation' for the seasons, but you're right that a large or fast wobble would make the stars unavoidable. I haven't looked into that adequately it seems, but let me ask: what a smaller or slower wobble? Could it be enough to throw off the seasons and mess up navigation a little bit, but not so much as to move the North Star significantly?

I would say no. In one revolution around the sun, the axis of Earth can be considered fixed, though in fact it moves a little due to the precession of the equinoxes, but by so little in a one year period that it can be neglected. Due to the inclination of the axis, the northern hemisphere receives more sunlight when Earth is at the perihelion in summer, and less when Earth is at the aphelion in winter. All this time, the axis always points the North Star.

For Planetos, if for one whole year it should be summer, then the axis should move in order that the northern hemispshere is always the one that gets more sunlight, and so the North Star should change significantly, all the different North Stars placed on a huge circle wandered in one year.

What other somewhat rational ideas do we have to explain the wobble?

As I said before, an erratic speed of Planetos around the Sun doesn't work neither, so I can't see other reasons then pure magic.

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Someone asked why the seasons are so messed up. Martin said he couldn't give an answer necause that would be telling! He did say that there would eventually be an answer in one of the books, and the answer would be a fantasy (as opposed to a science fiction/science based) answer.

http://www.westeros.org/Citadel/SSM/Entry/1365

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So that's how inversion works?

Yes the Bone mountains, been down that road. I think there was a thread aroud here about inverse parallels once, I will see if I can find it. Though the author is a bit lazy and never updates.

Well I wouldn't presume to state a thing so categorically as to say "that's how that works." .. I would say that George seems to like invert both tropes and the numerological symbolism, and probably other stuff as well, and I've definitely picked up on that. The 1 into three and 3 into 1 in particular I think I can explain.

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Mychael Redfort did you check out the article about the scientific possibilities for the irregular seasons?

I do think Durran D has the right idea as far the moons holding the magic in balance. That's kind of a magical equivalent to the moon's gravity keeping earth in balance, so into knit fits pretty well if that turns out to be the answer. I def think its part of the answer, at the least.

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Mithras, that link about the Shoemaker Levy comet was really informative, thanks for that. There's some scientific evidence in there I can use to support parts of my theory, for sure. I thought about putting some links to scientific articles in the essay, perhaps I shall do that.

I picked up on the idea that comets carry elements necessary for life to evolve. Phosphorus, in particular, is loaded with important meanings and ramifications. I think there's a symmetry here - Dawn came from a piece of the comet, which was part of the solution necessary to combat the LN. The same comet later caused the long night by killing the elf moon, but, it has already sewn the seeds of salvation. I like the symmetry and symbolic import of this scenario quite a bit. The comet gives life, and takes it away. Seems fitting.

P.S. That THUNDARR shit is off the chain, huh? Again, Durran D found that one. Nothing to do but howl with laughter, and remember not to take this too seriously ;)

PPS: "the year is 1994...." Ha!

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