Many know Saint-Saëns as the composer of Le carnaval des animaux and other landmark Romantic works; fewer know that he was an avid amateur astronomer.
Saint-Saëns was friends with the eminent French astronomer Camille Flammarion and participated in the Société Astronomique de France. His stature as a great French composer brought attention to the Société and astronomical research, and he contributed several articles to the group’s journal, Revue d’astronomie populaire.
This according to “Inspired by the skies? Saint-Saëns, amateur astronomer” by Léo Houziaux, an essay included in Camille Saint-Saëns and his world (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012, pp. 12–17).
Today is Saint-Saëns’s 180th birthday! Above, the composer (right) with Flammarion; below, Saint-Saëns adresses the heavens (Laudate, coeli!).
A black hole situated in the center of a galaxy amid a group of thousands of galaxies collectively called the Perseus Cluster (shown above) emits waves in a frequency equivalent to a B♭ 57 octaves below middle C, or one million, billion times lower than the lowest sound audible to the human ear. The Perseus black hole’s sound waves have a frequency of 10 million years.
This information, from an article published online by NASA, resonates with the philosophical concept often associated with Pythagoras and Johannes Kepler of Musica universalis or music of the spheres.
- Music of the spheres (jcreigh.blogspot.com)
- Just how low can a black hole go? (blogs.discovermagazine.com)