Perhaps in celebration of guitarist Brian May finally publishing his doctoral thesis after all these years, Queen + Paul Rodgers–the Bad Company-vocalist-augmented version of the classic pomp-rock outfit–have decided to call their forthcoming album The Cosmos Rocks. (Sadly, there’s no exclamation point in the title.) Looking at this sketch of May’s thesis makes me wonder if the album, which comes out next month, is going to draw on inspiration close to home:
Brian May’s thesis examines the mysterious phenomenon known as Zodiacal light, a misty diffuse cone of light that appears in the western sky after sunset and in the eastern sky before sunrise. Casual observers, if they live under very dark rural skies, can best see the light two to three hours before sunrise as they look east, and many people have been fooled into seeing it as the first sign of morning twilight. A Persian astronomer who lived around the 12th century referred to it as “false dawn” in a poem.
Astronomers now know that Zodiacal light represents reflected sunlight shining on scattered space debris clustered most densely near the sun. The millions of particles range in size from tiny asteroids to microscopic dust grains, and extend outward beyond the orbit of Mars.
May’s work focuses on an instrument that recorded 250 scans of morning and evening Zodiacal light between 1971 and 1972. The Fabry-Perot Spectrometer is located at the Observatorio del Teide at Izana in Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands.
Given that the book’s publishers are saying that Queen fans are among the intended audience for the tome, it may not be too much of a stretch.