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Robert Frost, “The Star-Splitter,” New Hampshire (New York, 1923)

In a comical ballad called “The Star-Splitter,” Robert Frost described a man outdoors splitting firewood after the first frost of autumn:     

You know Orion always comes up sideways.

Throwing a leg up over our fence of mountains,     

And rising on his hands, he looks in on me     

Busy outdoors by lantern-light with something     

I should have done by daylight, and indeed,     

After the ground is frozen, I should have done     

Before it froze….

As with Hesiod and Aratos, Frost’s poetic tale reminds us that Orion’s rising on the eastern horizon at sunset is a marker of autumn.

Frost, an avid amateur astronomer, believed that every town should have its own telescope. The humorous tale recounted in this poem illustrates how the presence of a telescope, like a compelling work of art, will change people, and entire communities, for the better.

Galileo's World Exhibition Location

Source: John and Mary Nichols Special Collections

Section: Stars

Section Number: 4

Object Number: 32

Subject Area(s): Astronomy, Literature, Meteorology, Scientific Instruments

Time Period: 20th Century

Region(s): North America, United States

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Coma Berenices Learning Leaflet

Coma Berenices Learning Leaflet

Coma Berenices is the only one of the modern 88 official constellations named after a historical figure. It represents the hair of Berenice, Queen of Egypt (267 221 BCE), who reigned with Ptolemy III Euergetes. Learn more about this in this learning leaflet.