I love this kind of thing . . .
Scholars have for decades tried to identify a puzzling celestial event in one of Walt Whitman's poems from his collection "Leaves of Grass." Now they've done so, using clues from a famed American landscape painter.
In the July issue of Sky & Telescope magazine, a team that includes astronomers and a literary scholar — all from Texas State University — details the existence and nature of the rare event, in which meteor fragments crossed the sky in a synchronized fashion.
The heavenly display is described in the poem "Year of Meteors (1859-1960)," in which Whitman writes of the tumultuous period leading up to the Civil War. He touches upon the hanging of abolitionist John Brown and the ascendancy of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency, and he makes two references to astronomy: "The comet that came unannounced out of the north, flaring in heaven," and "the strange huge meteor procession, dazzling and clear, shooting over our heads."