Bad Astronomy

Arthur C Clarke and the GRB

Over at EarthSkyBlog, Larry Sessions wrote a post suggesting that we call the extremely bright gamma-ray burst GRB 080319B “the Clarke Event”, since it happened around the same time that ACC died.

This may surprise you, but honestly, I don’t have very strong feelings about this idea. Clarke was a huge influence on so many people, of course. That is without a doubt! And obviously the GRB was one of the most incredible events we’ve ever seen.


But tying the two together in this way strikes me as artificial. Astronomers have done such things before; there was a tremendous explosion on the surface of the Sun on July 14, 2000 that’s called The Bastille Day Event. That makes sense, and the name arose organically.

And I have no issues for calling the GRB the Clarke Event, but campaigning for it strikes me as, well, forced. Either it’ll happen or it won’t. The poetic alignment of the two events is enough for me, to be honest. I won’t go out of my way to merge the two. If it happens, it happens, and I’ll pick up the lingo like anyone else will, but I don’t feel particularly strongly about trying to make it so.

Hat tip to the many BABloggees who wrote to me about this!