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Brown Bag @ the Bradbury
Wednesday, December 18, Noon to 1:00 PM
Dr. Bruce Masse: The Great Comet of A.D. 1264
More than 600 comets were historically documented before the invention of the telescope in 1608. Several dozen were distinguished by unusual size, shape, brightness, and duration. Comet 1264 was particularly remarkable. Records from East Asia, the Middle East, and Europe indicate that the comet was observed for at least 15 weeks, being daylight visible for more than one month. The tail of the comet twice exceeded 100° in length, between which it shrank to a few degrees and divided into five branches that looked like the fingers of a hand. The comet was described in Germany as “terrifying,” was linked to the death of Pope Urban in Italy, and was described in Egypt as being the comet predicted by Muhammad to signal the end of the world. This presentation explores the potential signature of Comet 1264 in the archaeological and oral historical record of North America and Hawaii.
Dr. W. Bruce Masse currently serves as a Guest Scientist with the Environmental Protection Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory, having retired from the Laboratory in 2012. He is an environmental archaeologist by training, with degrees from Stanford, the University of Arizona, and Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Masse has conducted archaeological fieldwork in the American Southwest, Micronesia, and Hawaii. He has authored articles and books on a variety of topics including mythology, Hawaiian traditional astronomy, the role of solar eclipses in Southwestern prehistory, the effects of volcanic eruption on culture, and the record of recent cosmic impact on Earth by asteroids and comets.
Admission is free and attendees are welcome to bring their lunch.