(HOST) Commentator Joe Citro has been thinking about the beginning of Autumn and the gloriously full harvest moon. And that, in turn, has reminded him of a true story about that heavenly body – and a doctor from Bellows Falls.
(CITRO) The moon has always held a certain fascination for… everyone. Here in Vermont we’ve had our own romance with our personal satellite, from "Moonlight in Vermont" to actual moon rocks awarded to us by President Nixon.
But in addition to science and song, there has always been offbeat lore about the moon. The "green cheese" myth is passé, of course, but many people suspect there are mysteries not yet disclosed by our telescopes and Apollo missions.
An early advocate of moon mysteries was Dr. Seth Blake, of Bellows Falls. Dr. Blake was an interesting, high-powered individual perhaps best remembered today because there’s a street named after him. But in his day – the late 19th century – he was a publisher, he owned a newspaper, and he was a major railroad promoter, not to mention a lecturer and writer. And – for 30 years – he was a practicing dentist. Among his main interests were marksmanship, rattlesnake hunting, and astronomy. Dr Blake had an observatory in a revolving dome on the top of his Atkinson Street home. His hand-fashioned telescope was one of the most powerful in the state. In 1885 he discovered a star in the Andromeda Galaxy. Actually, it was a supernova – but according to my friend Gary Nowak of the Vermont Astronomical Society – back then they didn’t know what a "supernova was."
And, alas, Dr. Blake wasn’t the only one to discover it. But I’m pretty sure he was the only one who dubbed it "The Star of Bethlehem," the same star, he said, that had shone 2000 years ago when baby Jesus was born.
Anyway, in 1887 came his strangest discovery. As the dentist sat on top of his house moonlighting as an astronomer, he noted some oddities on the moon’s surface.
He announced to the scientific community what he had observed: "a vast wall of more than 200 miles in extent" This wall, he said, was covered by some kind of shiny substance.
Shiny? Why shiny?
Well, he theorized, to catch the light reflected from the earth and use it to illuminate another structure he observed on the lunar surface, what he called, "a great ship canal" 200 miles long, six miles wide, and "cut straight as a line could be drawn."
The whole complex, he inferred, had been built by intelligent, oversized, and most likely superior human beings – moon men.
His account goes into a lot more detail, but today it’s forgotten.
As is Dr. Blake. His moon structures. And the vanished civilization he theorized had built them.
Still we must ask, Why would he make such outrageous claims? I can’t say for sure, of course, but perhaps a hint lies in another structure Dr. Blake reported.
An edifice shaped like a giant letter B.
(TAG) You can find more commentaries by Joe Citro at VPR-dot-net.
NOTE: Thanks for all the research help from astronomer Gary Nowak, librarians Emily Zervas & Sam Maskell, and web wizard Jason Smiley.