50 years ago today

By Astrocatblog

Want to read about show biz cats in Hollywood leading all the way to Mt. Wilson Observatory to meet the great astronomer, Edwin Hubble? We will be sharing sample excerpts from several chapters of our book, “Tales of the Astro Cats: A Feline History of Great Astronomers” in the coming weeks. We will begin with an especially endearing story about Astronomer, Edwin Hubble’s relationship with one enterprising cat, Sphinx and that of his historical discovery of the Andromeda Galaxy. Take some time out and discover the creative charm and educational
aspects of the book by reading this excerpt from Chapter 24 entitled “Hubble”. Get a personalized copy of the book at: www.davishornerbooks.etsy.com or if not, go straight to www.amazon.com. Thanks!

“Major Edwin Hubble came to Hollywood that night
to see a movie called “Lost Battalion”, because he knew several of the actors from the war. As luck would have it Brodsky’s show was practically next door to the theater and he could hardly have missed recognizing the cat with the Purple Cone. He couldn’t have explained why, but he felt that this cat belonged with him, so he was emboldened to counter Charlie Chaplin’s offer with his own. He also wasn’t sure why, but he assumed the cat would understand everything he said.
Up on the mountain, he spent most of his days and nights taking pictures of the sky, a sky seen through the world’s most powerful telescope. Sphinx wasn’t aware of this at first, but when she first got a chance to look into the proper end of the instrument she was overwhelmed. She had at times second guessed her choice to come with this man, but one peek into the telescope reassured her. She beheld a universe that
had truly never been seen before.
Hubble’s assistant, Milton Humason, was the man who actually took most of the photographs. He knew the observatory from top to bottom, having started out as the janitor. He took over the responsibility of feeding the cat. His work required him to spend night after night taking pictures with extremely slow exposures, and checking the calibrations of the equipment. It could get rather tedious sometimes and he was happy to have a cat hanging around.
“Yes it does get a little slow, but I do love this job. I mean, how many school drop-outs do you know who
work as astronomers? It’s a pretty sweet deal, if you ask me.”
Milton would snack on sardines most nights during his shift, and he always set aside one of them for Sphinx.  “Hubble’s a pretty sharp cookie too, I tell you. I think
this place is going to be on the map one of these days. It already is! There’s no other looking glass in the world like this one!”She loved the way he would scratch under her neck.  “I like it up here. Nice and quiet and undisturbed. Of course if I want to kick it up a little Los Angeles is right at the bottom of the mountain.”
Sphinx began to understand that this man, though he lacked the polish that Hubble had, was a brilliant and instinctual man of science. She also began to put some of the pieces together of the work he and Hubble were doing. She decided she needed to share with
them some of her knowledge about her grandfather’s friends at Harvard.
Another word about the powers of the Hat: Whereas all of the wearers of Hypatia’s Hat have been scrupulous about instructing their heirs in the proper use of the hat, of the knowledge it has availed them, and the stories of their ancestors and their contributions to science, the Hat itself supplements for the wearer what limits of time make impossible to convey. In some marvelous way the Hat somehow “interfaces” with the mind of its wearer and enables her to recall all of the knowledge of her ancestors, if
and when she needs it. Thus Sphinx was able to recollect details of the work of her grandfather with the Harvard women that she could not have known first hand nor could have been told in such detail.
It was not long before Milton discovered that Sphinx could thump the Morse Code with her tail, and it followed that he soon figured out her other modes of communication. He passed this knowledge to Hubble as well until the three of them were happily engaging in three way discussions on a variety of topics.
And indeed, Hubble was keenly interested in the work Alabaster had done with Annie Jump Cannon and with Henrietta Swan Leavitt. He had been studying a fuzzy patch of light called the Andromeda Nebula, and felt he was on the verge of making some startling discoveries about it. Sphinx began relating everything she could on luminosities and Cepheid variables and Magellanic Clouds. Night after night Milton Humason
would photograph images from that sector that included the Andromeda. Hubble went into a white heat of study, sometimes working for 24 hours at a time. Even Sphinx would occasionally miss her 16 hour per day sleep requirement. A few times Hubble sent her flying miles into the sky, equipped with a
makeshift camera. As clear as the sky was from atop Mt. Wilson, he sometimes wanted an even clearer picture.
He once tried to contact Miss Leavitt by telephone, without success. Then he wrote her a letter. His former co-worker Dr. Shapley wrote from Harvard to
inform him that Henrietta had died. Sphinx had known this sweet and brilliant woman and was saddened by the news. She continued with her recollections of the work and communicated it all to Hubble.
Finally one night Hubble met with Milton and Sphinx
and several other members of the staff and explained: “I am now certain that my measurements are correct and that this formation which we have, to this point, referred to as a “Nebula” is actually another galaxy – the Andromeda Galaxy – which lies almost one million light years beyond our own Milky Way. Ladies
and Gentlemen, there are other galaxies beyond our own, in fact I believe there may be many, many more!” A sort of celebration followed, everyone congratulating each other for the excellence of their work. Milton took the time to peel away from the
festivities and have a chat with Sphinx. “Just to make sure you know that I know,” he began, “and that I know that Hubble knows that your contribution to this work has been crucial. Absolutely crucial! You are by far the greatest astronomy cat I have known. And you’re a superior rat catcher too, for that matter! Someday your story will be told!” He slipped her two sardines and started back towards the party. Then he turned around. “Hey, if an uneducated janitor can do this work, there’s no reason a cat can’t!” He winked.
Later that night Sphinx hopped to the ledge at the top of the observatory and contemplated the night sky. Hubble’s discoveries validated some things she had suspected for some time. But hearing the proof of these things gave her a sense of awe as she gazed into space and considered the utter hugeness of the universe. In a state of near hypnosis, the cat watched the stars in their slow, very slow dance for hours and hours. “

By Astrocatblog

A Look Inside the Tales of the Astro Cats

Now you can order a personalized copy of our book, “Tales of the Astro Cats: A Feline History of Great Astronomers”. Get it signed by both author, illustrator and Marble’s paw print including a special message for a gift book. We are unable to sign the Amazon and Barnes and Noble copies, therefore, support the creators of the book by going directly to their Etsy book store. Link: www.davishornerbooks.etsy.com. And if you are interested in old and rare books, come back later and check out Dave’s collection for sale. Local folks we still have signed copies of the book at Fiction Addiction bookstore here in town (Greenville, SC), too.

About the book: Astro Cat is an imaginary character with amazing skills, but (s)he is a cat; acts like a cat, thinks like a cat, some of an ordinary cat’s limitation; not a human in a fur suit.

The science, though presented in a whimsical way, is researched and accurate, as is the history. This is within the current trend toward “hard science” in speculative fiction. More and more books and movies are paying attention to this, e.g., Interstellar, The Martian.

We believe that, once Tales of the Astro Cats is published that it will lend itself naturally to being presented in other media, notably animation and 3D.

We also strongly believe that this story could be useful as a means of teaching science and the history of scientific discovery, especially in astronomy. The science in The Tales of Astro Cat is not extremely difficult or exotic, and it could easily be adapted into classroom lesson plans and other educational formats.

Continue reading

By Astrocatblog

Tales of the Astro Cats-A Feline History of Great Astronomers Book Launch Party!



Just look at our new book!  Isn’t it beautiful!  If you are visiting for the first time, scroll down through the pages (or use the menu to the right to move year by year) and read excerpts from the book and take in the beautiful illustrations.

Drum roll!  Announcing Marble’s book launch party for his new book, “Tales of the Astro Cats-A Feline History of Great Astronomers.  The party will be held in Greenville, South Carolina at Fiction Addiction on April 21, 2018 from 2-4 PM.  Readings from the book will be presented and you can receive a paw print signature along with the author and the illustrator signature inside your newly purchased book.  Refreshments will be served and the party is free to the public.  Copies of the book will be available online soon!  We will update our post on here to announce where you can buy the book later on this month.  If you have questions, please contact us right here and we will get right back to you.

“Though the story has elements of whimsy, the science and the history thereof is well researched and accurate. This book would be an excellent resource for presenting basic astronomy to students of all ages, from the middle grades on up. The story could also be beautifully represented as a video animation project or a movie to showcase its many magical episodes and its many fascinating locales.” Guy Ottewell, Astronomer and founder of The Astronomical Calendar.

By Astrocatblog

New Astrocat Book Release This Spring!

Great news! “Tales of the Astro Cats: A Feline History of Great Astronomers” will be out in print this coming spring 2018! We are excited! It is going to be one beautiful book. Stay tuned for book release date. Those of you who are new to our blog, scroll back into the past few years or click on the menu items above to catch up with excerpts from the book. Better yet, join the blog and you will be kept up to date on coming attractions from the book, book release date and where to buy “Tales of the Astro Cats”. Marble pondering skies Lo Res Re edit

By Astrocatblog

Einstein and his cat, Astrocat Perseus Hyperion

Little did we know that Astro Cat, Perseus Hyperion really volunteered to be Schrodinger’s Cat, but he was known for his risk-taking adventures so it makes sense. Here he is schmoozing with his pal, Einstein while his mentor, Schrodinger poses in the back row for this historical photo. Go ahead and share away! “The Tales of Astro Cat” at Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com and Smashwords.com.


By Astrocatblog

The Talisman

The TalismanBk Print  TWO

From the eBook, “The Tales of Astro Cat”:

“As the day of U Phat Khat’s departure approached, Uthong decided it was time to present him with a precious gift – a gift that had been intended for the cat all along. U Phat Khat’s eyes began to dance when he saw it. It was a beautiful hat of conical shape, encrusted with ancient words and symbols. “It is the shape of wisdom and of power; it is the crown and the shape of wizardry. This small pouch will carry it as it hangs from your neck as a talisman. You can see that it also is emblazoned with words and symbols.”
The cat gazed at his gift and suddenly saw a great destiny unfolding before him – and sensed himself among crowds of brilliant lights and bright moving objects – but before he could fully grasp it the vision was gone.”

By Astrocatblog

From “The Tales of Astro Cat”, Chapter Two, “Gianluca and the Master”, copyright 2012. Image

“What he found, though, was that living on the streets and canals of medieval Venice held far more challenges than prison life. Here he was just another cat, struggling to survive, being new to the language, vying with other cats for a meal of fish bones, scraps or rodents. And, most importantly, he realized that in his haste to escape, he had left the Purple Cone behind!”

From “The Tales of Astro Cat”, Chapter Two,