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Mystery of Charles Barns, Alfred Noyes, & Frederick Brasch

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#1 Crusty99

Crusty99

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Posted 12 July 2018 - 10:52 PM

Like many of us, I have old astronomy books scattered about the house.

 

I just opened a copy of 1001 Celestial Wonders (3rd ed., 1931) by Charles Edward Barnes. A black and white, 4-page brochure had been placed between pages 134-135. The brochure was picked up at The Mount Wilson Observatory at some point and the following inscription appeared on the front of the brochure:

 

"here is where we went when I first came here" 

 

*****

 

Back to Barnes book. At the bottom of page 135, Barns included the following quote:

 

"In the whole history of science none bears witness to pathos of struggle and the heroic lives of its devotees as does astronomy."

--Brasch

 

I really like this quote.

 

Who was Brasch?

 

*****

 

After a few hours of research,  I identified Frederick Edward Brasch (1875-1967) -- librarian and bibliographer, with an interest in the history of science. Wait, Brasch's biography also says he worked as an Asst. Observer at Harvard College Observatory (1903-1904) and then at Lick Observatory (1905). And before this, he studied Astronomy at Stanford University (1897-1899). 

 

Why did Charles Edward Barnes include a quote from Frederick Edward Brasch on page 135 of his classic book?

 

*****

 

My best guess is because Brasch wrote a much quoted book review of Watchers of the Sky, Volume 1 in the epic poem trilogy The Torch-Bearers by Alfred Noyes (1880-1958), famous poet, writer, and playwright of that time.

 

And Brasch's book review of Noyes' poems about torch-bearing astronomers appeared in Popular Astronomy, Vol. 30 (1922), p. 513-516

 

*****

 

Mystery solved -- more or less.

 

Somebody visited Mount Wilson Observatory and decided to place the 4-page black-and-white brochure at page 135 of Barnes' popular book, as a page marker for Brasch's famous quote in Popular Astronomy (1922). 

 

And like many of us, I purchased a used book and placed it in my personal library.

 

*****

 

What mysteries do you have -- waiting to be discovered -- in your old books?

 

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