I need a celestial event!

Phases of the Moon

Phases of the Moon

….and other impossible things in Book6.

I had this dream last night about how to involve Sergeant Michaels in Portia’s latest case, and for it to work, I need a celestial event to occur in the summer of 1931 that is visible from London.

No prob, right?

Wikipedia has a listing on Eclipses by century:

1930 Apr 13 5:59 Partial D 111 0.955 1.132 0.112 76 13.42 -8 5:21 6:37
1930 Oct 07 19:07 Partial A 116 -0.981 1.117 0.03 42 0.87 4.6 18:46 19:28
1931 Apr 02 20:08 Total D 121 0.204 2.489 1.508 208 90 12.75 -4.6 18:24 19:23 20:53 21:52
1931 Sep 26 19:48 Total A 126 -0.27 2.432 1.325 228 84 0.18 0.9 17:54 19:06 20:30 21:42

How about the Delta Aquarid meteor shower instead?

The Southern Delta Aquariids are a meteor shower visible from mid July to mid August each year with peak activity on July 28 or 29 July. The shower originated from the breakup of what are now the Marsden and Kracht Sungrazing comets.

The meteor shower was first recorded by G. L. Tupman in 1870, and was further studied well into 1933. A journalist and astronomer named Ronald A. McIntosh studied the meteor shower in the 1920s, and I think I can therefore extrapolate that Portia Adams, an avid reader, might have come across his articles on the phenomenon.

The viewer/victim would have to be ‘facing South East’ to see the shower (according to this article I found on SpaceDex.com) and would have to be watching before dawn on the 28 or 29th of July.

additional info on lighting

Prompted by the comments below, I’m doing some research today on light pollution and whether it would be possible to see a meteor shower from downtown London in 1931. Here is some helpful data from UK Roads:
“The gradual spread of street lighting across the UK led to the first set of national standards being established during 1927. Due to efficiency and economic constraints, the standards required lighting accompanied by reflectors which would direct all light into a narrow channel in the roadway. This resulted in no uniform illumination of the roadway, causing pavements and large parts of the carriageway to remain unlit. And a large amount of glare where the road was lit!”


5 thoughts on “I need a celestial event!

  1. Ok, but I warn you, its not entirely thought out… how about if there was a suspected murder of a wealthy young man whose body was found at the base of a tall building. Suspicion is that he was pushed from the top, but in fact, Portia will postulate he was backing up with his camera (an expensive novelty in 1930) to get a better picture of some Celestial Event? It would have to be a predictable event and he would have to be facing in that direction and fall in the opposite.

  2. I’m no expert. As a matter of fact, I’m a complete stranger that’s also not an expert. But I felt that I should put my two cents in here.

    It seems (based on my very short perusing of your little blog) that you are trying to write a (very) historically accurate tale. I commend these efforts. You’re clearly a more devoted person than most.

    Make sure that your character is in a very dark place I’m guessing that couldn’t really be within city limits of London because there would be plenty of light pollution causing a great difficulty in actually seeing the shower itself.

    I’m sure you already thought of that. Now I will recede into my dark corner of the internet…

    • A very good point, and I am having trouble ascertaining just how much light pollution would exist in downtown London in the 1930s at night. Surely office buildings were not set up the way they are now to inefficiently be lit up all night… But then what about lamp posts?
      I’ll keep looking for answers for sure, but in the meantime, thanks for the comment and kind words!

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