Saturn

Saturn in Shakespeare...

Experts in Shakespearean  literary interpretation ignore the evidence for any but the most superficial of astronomical phenomena (sunrise, sunset, the heavens, etc.), and the vast majority of experts in the history of astronomy deny that Shakespeare knew of phenomena that could only be accessed telescopically. Even to admit these topics into the dialectic of scholarly research would be to open the possibility of doubt about Shakespeare's supposed ignorance of, or indifference toward, the revolution in cosmic worldview occurring in his lifetime, and about the origin of astronomical telescopy supposed to have begun with Thomas Harriot in 1609 and Galileo Galilei in 1610. Yet, this website has made the case based on peer-reviewed articles that these widespread denials are open to dispute. 


Most critics deny the possibility of  sixteenth-century telescopy and are particularly opposed to the evidence presented in the book pictured to the left of any telescopic resolution of planet Saturn. The image of Saturn on the cover was taken by David Tyler of Buckinghamshire, England, to mimic what the eye would see through a telescope. (For particulars, see text to the left.) A chief obstacle to scholarly objectivity is faith that this poet's expertise could not possibly embrace physical phenomena, but deniers of this literary climate change may recall the commonly-accepted bromide that Shakespeare was ahead of his time, and this includes scientific fields like physiology, geology, and mathematics.

Analysis of three plays -- All's Well that Ends Well, Much Ado about Nothing, and The Comedy of Errors -- reveals that Shakespeare knew a great deal about planet Saturn. He knew of its two chief rings, the shadows cast by the orb and rings, the gap between the rings, and the ring tilt. He knew of the aspect cycle of nearly 30 years, which puts the origin of sustained astronomical telescopy into the middle sixteenth century. Moreover, Shakespeare had the analytic capability to model the ring-tilt cycle with astonishing accuracy, and even though these facts are all but spelled out in the scripts and in related material like dates of submission to the Stationers' Register, they have gone undetected for centuries.