Arts and Culture: Wales’ Horror Planet Shines on Halloween – The Tribune

Mars can be found in the eastern sky just after dark

“a20 minutes before 8:00 CST, Professor Farrell of the Mount Jennings Observatory, Chicago, Illinois, reported observing several explosions of glowing gas, occurring at regular intervals on Mars.”

With these words on October 30, 1938, a radio announcer informed the audience for the first time that something unusual was happening.

Within an hour, an extraterrestrial cylinder will land at Grovers Mill, New Jersey, unleashing the first of many armored space infantry on the US East Coast and New York City.


Of course, it was all just a radio dramatization of H.G. Wells’s 1898 novel, “War of the Worlds,” by 23-year-old director Orson Welles and The Mercury Theater on the Air (As the intermittent ads during the broadcast made clear), but that didn’t stop a portion of the listening audience from panicking and believing that an actual invasion of Mars was underway.

While the level of hysteria has been amplified by some accounts as the broadcast legend has spread, and the entire country hasn’t descended into chaos, CBS has been plagued by calls from a large number of frightened listeners.

Young Jack Barr, who later became famous as hosting the Tonight Show in the 1960s, was an anchor for CBS’s Cleveland branch at the time and recalled receiving many of these calls.

“The world is not coming to an end,” he recalls telling stunned audience members. “Believe me. When did I lie to you?”

Barr said that callers then began accusing him of “covering up the truth,” which frustrated him so much that he had to bring in station management to help him.

Organized as a series of news reports that interrupted the mundane broadcast of a ballroom concert, Wells’ production looked realistic enough to actually alarm audiences as war seemed imminent in Europe with the rise of Nazi Germany.

The first disclaimer is believed to have been missed by many listeners, as it was read before many show tuning, as the Martian landers arrived just as a typical lull occurred on a highly-rated rival programme, Chase and Sanborn Hour (which features ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and co-owner, Charlie McCarthy), and many were wiping the dial to skip the weekly music number (whether Willis deliberately timing the most troubling part of his show for this moment has long been debated).

After days of not conquering, the young host appeared in front of the media and charmed his way by offering an apology to those who misinterpreted the broadcast, and the hype made him an instant household name. He quickly struck a production deal in Hollywood, culminating in the release of his directing masterpiece, Citizen Kane, three years later, widely considered the greatest film of all time.

Night sky view of the weekend and Monday, looking east, just after 9 p.m. Note: The faint stars have been omitted from the histogram. (Illustrated Ironton Tribune)

It’s fitting that Mars, once again, has a prominent place this weekend, the eve of Halloween and the 84th anniversary of the broadcast of War of the Worlds on Sunday.

The red planet can easily be spotted in the sky at nightfall.

The brightness of the planet in our sky varies throughout the year, depending on its position in its orbit and its distance from Earth, but in the next few weeks, it is in a particularly bright phase and is hard to miss.

To discover Mars, look to the east, from 9 to 10 pm, and you will see it, low in the sky, brighter than any of the stars around it, and distinguished by its distinctive red color.

The fourth planet from the Sun, Mars gets a rusty tint of iron oxide on its surface, and it’s so abundant that it affects the view from Earth tens of millions of miles away.

The red planet rises as the night progresses and can be seen until sunrise, when it is high in the night sky. And its brightness will continue in the coming weeks, until December 8th, when it reaches resistance and the Earth is directly between it and the sun.

Mars is currently in the constellation Taurus, one of the constellations, a group of 12 constellations through which the planets move.

Not far from Mars, in Taurus, one can spot the Pleiades, the “Seven Sisters”, a small group of stars that initially appear as a small silvery cloud to the naked eye.

Of great interest to observers since ancient times, the chandeliers were noticed by the Greeks and mentioned in the Bible in the Book of Job.

Located between Mars and the Pleiades is a bright orange-red star, Aldebaran, the brightest in the constellation.

While Aldebaran is one of the brightest stars in the sky, its luminosity appears to be a bit dim at the moment, with Mars close by. But its appearance early in the night is a harbinger of brighter stars on the way in the winter constellations, which create the holiday sky favored by astronomers.

Meanwhile, when you take the kids trick-or-treat Monday, enjoy the view of our neighboring planet, and take comfort that, this year, there are no reports of any landings in New Jersey or anywhere else.

Heath Harrison is the community editor of The Ironton Tribune and has been fascinated by the night sky ever since H.A. Rey read “Find the Constellations” at the age of six.

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