The Bug House Files

Thanks to Mark Edwards, I am now confident everything is going to be all right

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Moonlight, a Study at Millbank exhibited 1797 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851It’s Saturday night and with a toss-up on TV between The Voice (caterwauling amateurs bid for pop stardom) and Splash (D-list celebs in Speedos compete on the high-dive) I am in need of some reassurance about the future of the human race.

Fortunately I have found it in a letter published in today’s Daily Telegraph.

The painting featured above is called Moonlight: A Study at Millbank by J M W Turner, currently on display at the Tate in London. Note the  full moon and the prominent star above it. According to Telegraph reader Mark Edwards, the star is actually the planet Jupiter – and its position in the night sky is of crucial importance to understanding the provenance of the painting.

Mr Edwards,  of Binley Woods, Warwickshire, writes: “[The position of moon and planet] has enabled me to determine that it was painted at 8.35pm GMT on August 19 1796, from a point nearly opposite to the present Battersea Power Station.”

I have no idea how Mr Edwards worked this out. I am not even sure that it is in the remotest way important. All I know is that his calculation fills me with great joy — and tonight, when I tuck my eight-year-old daughter into bed, I shall kiss her brow and confidently reassure her that, no matter how bad things might seem on TV, everything is going to be all right.

Thank you, Mr Edwards. And thank you Mr Turner.


Author: Jim Ford

I'm an author and journalist. "The Bug House" series of Tyneside-based crime novels is published in 2014

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