The Hidden Almanac for
Friday May 1st, 2015
Episode 250
Previous episode: 2015-04-29
Next episode: 2015-05-04


Today marks the earliest known observation of a nebula. It is also the day a show began at the Royal Marina. It is the Feast Day of St. Illusis, and in the garden, there are peppers.

Be Safe, and Stay Out of Trouble.


Welcome to the Hidden Almanac, I’m Reverend Mord.

Today is May 1st, 2015

It was on this day in 964 that the astronomer al-Rahman observed “a small cloud of surpassing brightness in the western sky.” This is believed to be the first recorded observation of a nebula, in this case the Sloth Nebula. Al-Rahman believed that the cloud was most likely a star cluster, and lamented “the dreadful impurity of the glass through which I must observe heaven, which introduces all manner of errors into my view.” It was not until 1658 that the Sloth Nebula was finally identified as a nebula, as part of Hera Huggin’s “Survey Astrologica.”

There is some evidence, mostly among astronomer-mediums, that the Sloth Nebula has already been destroyed by a supernova, but the light from that event will not reach us for another four thousand years.

And it was on this day in 1908 that the “Diving Horse” show came to the city, featuring horses that dove from a ramp as high as forty feet in the air, into the water at the Royal Marina. Animal rights groups protested this for many years, while the owners maintained that no horse was ever injured during the show. (Riders, on the other hand, broke bones on a regular basis.) The last diving horse was a gelding named “Starstruck” who retired in 1978, at the age of nearly twenty. He was sold to his rider in the show, Caroline McMasters, for one dollar. She wrote a book titled “Starstruck: My Life With The World’s Most Famous Diving Horse” following his death of old age in 1983.

It is the Feast Day of Saint Illusis, patron of gardeners struck by a freakishly late freeze or afflicted by unseasonable snow and hail. Small icons of St. Illusis are used to weigh down plastic sheeting thrown hastily over tomato plants when cold weather threatens.

In the garden, we are fortunate to have had no such freezes. The tomatoes and the peppers have been planted, along with many colorful annuals. Peppers, as one need hardly mention, are indiscriminate pollinators, so that a jalepeno can be pollinated by a ghost pepper and produce an offspring that will stun anyone who bites into it expecting the flavor of a jalepeno. There is nothing to be done about this, except plant the peppers far apart, or learn to enjoy surprises.

The Hidden Almanac is brought to you by Red Wombat Tea Company, purveyors of fine and inaccessible teas. Red Wombat --- “We Dig Tea.”

Also brought to you by the Waterwise Pub, which aims to conserve our precious liquid resources by only offering beverages more than forty proof. Beer wastes water. Scotch conserves it. Your choice is clear.

That’s the Hidden Almanac for May 1st, 2015. Be safe, and stay out of trouble.


Out of Character

The Hidden Almanac is a production of Dark Canvas Media, written by Ursula Vernon and performed and produced by Kevin Sonney. Our theme music is Moon Valley and our exit music is Red in Black, both by Kosta T. You can hear more from Kosta T at the Free Music Archive. All other content is copyright 2013 through 2015, Ursula Vernon.

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