Astronomy

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Astronomy is a natural science that studies celestial objects and phenomena.[1] In the known world, astronomy plays a role in keeping track of time as well as religion.

The bronze link of a maester's chain[2][3] likely symbolizes his expertise in either astronomy or astrology.[N 1] Maester Nicol has studied the movement of the stars[4] and Maester Luwin, in service at Winterfell during the rule of Lord Eddard Stark, has a Myrish tube lens through which he looks at stars in the sky.[5]

The moon and sun

It is known that daytime period is correlated with the seasons. Towards the end of summer, the days start to grow shorter,[6] a trend which continues through autumn.[7][8] The end of a season is determined by the Conclave of the Citadel, who base their conclusion on the measurements and reports of maesters all over the realm.[9]

The known world is orbited by a moon in a similar fashion to Earth's. George R. R. Martin has specified that "Twelve moon [turns] to a year, as on earth. Even on our earth, years have nothing to do with the seasons, or with the cycles of the moon.[10] In the world of Westeros, a year is a measure of a solar cycle, i.e., of how long it takes the earth to make one complete revolution around the sun.[10][11]

In his The Measure of the Days, Maester Nicol argues, based upon his studies on the movement of stars, that the seasons possibly were once of a regular length, determined by the way in which the globe faces the sun. According to Maester Yandel, however, although the notion appears to be true, Nicol has not been able to find any evidence that regular seasons were once the case, beyond the most ancient of tales.[4]

In the faith of R'hllor, the Lord of Light, the red priests and other followers pray before a nightfire, thanking R'hllor for ending the day, while beseeching him to bring the dawn and banish the darkness.[12] The nightfires are lit at sunset.[12][13] Fires are also lit each morning at first light, where the red priests welcome the sun.[14] Other red priests might attend to their fires during the entire night.[15] A common phrase of prayer is "the night is dark and full of terrors".[9][14] A typical prayer sequence contains the phrase "Yours is the sun that warms our days, yours the stars that guard us in the dark of night. (Lord of Light, defend us. The night is dark and full of terrors. Lord of Light, protect us.) R'hllor who gave us breath, we thank you. R'hllor who gave us day, we thank you. (We thank you for the sun that warms us. We thank you for the stars that watch us. We thank you for our hearths and for our torches, that keep the savage dark at bay.)".[12][N 2]

The Qartheen believe that there were once two moons in the sky. This second moon supposedly came too close to the sun and cracked, having dragons pouring forth from it.[16][17] The Dothraki believe that the moon is a goddess, wife to the sun.[16]

Planets and other moving objects

There are seven wanderers in the sky over the known world, each of which are sacred to the Faith of the Seven and equated with one of the seven gods.[18] This would imply that each wanderer is a planet, as the word planet is derived from the Greek word πλανῆται (planētai, which means "wanderers" or "wandering stars").[19][20]

Among the seven wanderers is the red wanderer, equated by the Faith of the Seven to the Smith, and known as the Thief by the Free Folk.[18][21][22]

Beyond these seven wanderers, other "wandering stars" have also been known to appear, for example the red comet from 299 AC.[23]

Stars and Constellations

Myrish eyes mounted on tripods could be used to observe the stars.[24] There are also dedicated observatories, including one kept at Winterfell by Luwin.[25] The maesters of the Citadel compile maps of the starry sky for their research and studies and their knowledge is useful in navigation at the open sea, in particularly the Galley, the Crone's Lamp, and the eye of the Ice Dragon constellations.[5][12]

Constellations are the names given to a group of stars linked close together. Often times, they represent some sort of picture. Their names usually vary between the various peoples.

The Free Folk have many of the same names for constellations as the folk of the Seven Kingdoms do, although there are some differences. The King's Crown is the named the Cradle by them, as the Stallion is named the Horned Lord.[18] The Dothraki for their part believe that the stars are the souls of the deceased, their brightness being a reflection of their exploits during their lives.[26]

Known constellations

Notes

  1. Based on Archmaester Vaellyn's "subject to judge" being "the heavens" (A Feast for Crows, Prologue) and him being described as "the stargazer" (A Feast for Crows, Appendix)
  2. The sentences in parenthesis are responses from worshippers present at the nightfire.

References

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