Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce, 1842-1913

Ambrose Bierce, a western American, writer and a participant in the American Civil War wrote, in 1900;

The bullet that pierced Goebel’s breast
Can not be found in all the West;
Good reason, it is speeding here
To stretch McKinley on his bier.

Goebel was the Governor of Kentucky, assassinated before his term could transpire, but elected amid an extreme amount of controversy. Siding with Goebel, and decidedly against McKinley, who he probably saw as just a Republican pick of the corporate monopolies of the age, he also was a lightening rod for criticism from the Hearst newspapers, that backed Republicans. Since his poem preceded McKinley’s assassination, once it unfolded he seemed to have foreshadowed the national crime.

But Bierce was a complicated man. Bierce enlisted in the 9th Indiana Infantry Regiment and received attention for rescuing a wounded compatriot, while under fire, in the Battle of Rich Mountain. He suffered a serious head wound at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain in 1864. His participation in the Union cause is evidence of his convictions. He recovered enough to partake in General Hazen’s quest to inspect western military outposts and arrived in San Francisco, California in December of 1866. He became a writer and contributor to newspapers and noted for his stories on crime and defended women’s suffrage, i.e. voting rights. He also wrote humorous columns including the “Grizzly Papers.”

Ambrose Bierce wrote with a biting satire, skillful and relentless in attacking accepted contemporary thought. Bierce even evoked a following as far as England, although by 1900 many regarded him as a crank. The heady days of his writing around 1870 also included the roots of the Bohemian Club, now known as the mysterious Bohemian Grove, and in the early days included noted western writer John Muir, known as the “Father of the National Park System.”

Another noted work of Bierce was the “Devil’s Dictionary,” which provided an alternate meaning for many words. While many meanings were lengthy, his definition for the word impunity was simply “wealth.’ A perfect example of his deep cynicism.

Late in 1913 at the age of 71, Bierce had penned a letter to a friend stating “As to me, I leave here tomorrow for an unknown destination,” and promptly disappeared. Bierce’s works include film adaptations of “An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge,” “Eyes of the Panther,” and “The Damned Thing.” While the latter seemed to deal with man and beast, human frailty, panic and social anxieties, Bierce also dabbled in the supernatural in his writing.

Bierce was last seen in Chihuahua, Mexico.

Class o-type stars

The brightest stars are roughly 50 times the size of our sun.

Up to a million times brighter than our sun, Class O (oh) stars can be between 15 and 100 times the mass of our sun and boast surface temperatures of 30,000 to 50,000 degrees Kelvin, or 50,000 to 90,000 degress F.  There may be as many as 15,000 of these in the Milky Way galaxy. O-type stars also expel massive amounts of radiation in the ultraviolet spectrum.

Betelgeuse is not an O-type, it is one of the brightest in our sky because it is one of the closest stars. It is a red giant, with a mass between 5 and 30 times that of our sun. Estimates put its temperature around 3300 degrees Kelvin and it has been observed contracting in recent years. Red giants are pulsating stars, meaning that they will expand and contract in size, but some scientists believe Betelgeuse is due to burn out in less than a million years. The uncertainty is so great thought that some say it may already have exploded as a type II super nova, but the light has not reached earth. Around 500 light years away, that is a mathematical possibility.

500 light years, or 150 parsecs from earth, even a super nova explosion would not have a great impact on earth. Betelgeuse is part of the Orion constellation, an evening winter to spring zodiacal display which also contains Rigel, Bellatrix and Alnilam. Orion is roughly between and below Gemini and Taurus, the late April and late May constellations. In North America, Gemini is a february constellation, remember that the astrological time periods came from Greece and Italy.

To find an O-type supergiant, one can loook to the Monoceros constellation, a faint display directly below Gemini in the North American Sky. Dificult to see with the naked eye, but the star Monocerotis is over 2400 light years distant with a mass roughly 60 times that of our sun.

The Milky Way galaxy is thought to contain around 250 billion stars. Reaching 100,000 light years across, and with stars beyond 1,000 light years being difficult to observe with the naked eye, many light patterns we observe in the Milky Way are the sum of multiple stars.