FIND in
<--prev V24 next-->

From: "Mitchell A. Bailey" <MAB@lindau.net>
Subject: (urth) Of Urth's Stars, and the use of Magnetic Compasses
Date: Thu, 25 Mar 1999 14:26:29 

"...the constellation called The Eight, which curiously has only three
stars. The constellation he's talking about is our Octans, meaning
octant--an eighth of a circle--which is triangular-shaped. Hence someone
in the future, in compiling his or her atlas of the sky, has
mistranslated Octans as The Eight."

Thanks, Robert, I had wondered about that, but, Octans being a minor
constellation, I missed it in a casual search. I once speculated that
some missing components of "the eight" might have burnt out, implying a
time frame of hundreds of millions of years, or moved drastically out of
place, over a time frame of millions of years.
Since stars within the galaxy orbit the galaxy or otherwise are in
motion, constellations change over the course of tens or hundreds of
thousands of millenia. That a constellation of our time is recognizable
to Severian would be an indication that either BNS is not set millions
of years in the future, but a few tens of millenia at most, or (shudder)
Wolfe goofed his astronomy by neglecting the time dimension.

Are there any more mentions of constellations known to us, other than
that controversial reference to "The Swan" among Thecla's memories
discussed before? Taurus is implied in that same passage, but the
creature described resembles the Minotaur more so than a bull, in my

Here's a homework question for fellow Urthlings: does anyone recall any
mentions or references being made anywhere in B/UNS to the use of
magnetic compasses on Urth? It could be as simple as one of Sev's
typical throwaway simile lines e.g. "- as a mariner uses a lodestone to
steer his pelagic argosy-" or some such. Alternatively, any references
to what substitutes navigators might use would be a clue. 

Any geologists out there may have figured out what I'm driving at, but
otherwise if and when some passage of that kind is found, I'll explain.

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

<--prev V24 next-->