Folklore Algol

Sitting on the grass outside Goodricke library, many people claim not to have seen this sculpture. The artist is H. Mercer (who also did the railway sculpture at the back of Goodricke) and the work represents the binary star Algol (once known as the ``Demon Star'').

John Goodricke was an astronomer living in York. He was deaf since his birth in 1764, but became a scientist and astronomer. In 1782 he was the first to explain the variations in the brightness of the star Algol - the star consists of two spheres which closely orbit one another. They have different brightnesses and pass in front of each other, so we see different brightnesses at different times. Algol was the first star to be identified as a binary.

The raw material for the sculpture was a large pile of steel cogs and gears, of railway origin.

When new (some time before 1971), the globes were lit from within (you can still see the electrical connections) in an approximation to the relative brightness of the real stars - one red, one blue. The sculpture was unveiled (probably by Sir Kenneth Clarke, no documentary evidence yet) at night for full effect. After a speech, the lights dimmed, and the stars lit up, and the honourable speaker was heard to say ``Good God!'' down the mic in a fairly disturbed voice.

Reports indicate they were still lit in 1978-9. Now woefully undermaintained, bits fall off from time to time.

Related pages:

* History of the Colleges
* Dryad, Tears of St Lawrence, `Library Sculpture', Three Norns
* Antiphon
* Mayflower 1
* The Buddah
* Rose of York

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