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Astronomy in the World of Avatar

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People in the World of Avatar have limited knowledge about astronomy and the universe around them. This extends to knowledge of eclipses and solstices, which are featured extensively in history and events. This knowledge is vital, as astronomical occurrences can directly affect bending power.

Spirits and people on Earth maintain repositories of this information in various locations, though much of it has been lost with the burying of Wan Shi Tong's Library.[1]

Astronomical knowledge

Comets

A comet is a small celestial body that orbits the Sun. When close enough to the Sun at the edge of Earth's atmosphere, comets exhibit a visible coma or a tail. The coming of a comet can be also predicted as it is periodic.

Sozin's Comet

Main article: Sozin's Comet
Sozin's Comet

Sozin's Comet passed once in 100 AG.

Sozin's Comet passes close to the Earth every one hundred years. Firebenders are able to draw power from it as they normally do the Sun, greatly enhancing their abilities. Fire Lord Ozai claimed it enhanced firebending by to the equivalent of one hundred Suns. Sozin used the power of the comet to eliminate the airbenders in an unsuccessful attempt to kill the Avatar; he was the first person to draw power from the comet to commit genocide and thus, it was renamed in his honor.[2]

Eclipses

An eclipse is an astronomical event that occurs when one celestial object moves into the shadow of another. People know the cause of these phenomena and can predict them through a planetary calendar room.[1]

Lunar eclipse

Red moon

A lunar eclipse took place during the Siege of the North.

Waterbending draws its power from the moon. Though the Moon Spirit's mortal form is known to influence the bending art, the effects of astronomical events are not clearly defined. During a lunar eclipse, the moon is merely hidden from view in the shadow of the Earth, with no interfering body in between, unlike a solar eclipse, where the sun is actually obscured by the satellite.[3]

Solar eclipse

Main article: Day of Black Sun
Eclipse

The invasion of the Fire Nation occurred on the same day as a solar eclipse.

A solar eclipse, such as the one that took place on the Day of Black Sun, refers to a day when the sun is entirely blocked out by the moon, rendering firebenders powerless.[1] A solar eclipse affects firebending by blocking the sun's heat and light, both of which firebenders use to control their bending.

The invasion of the Fire Nation took place on the Day of Black Sun. The invaders forced their way up the main route to the Capital City, and with the eclipse fast approaching, the firebenders were in full retreat. The invaders put on their eclipse glasses for observing the eclipse safely, without unnecessarily damaging their eyes. Meanwhile, the Avatar and his friends encountered War Minister Qin in the caverns and, with him totally defenseless, he told them of the Fire Lord's whereabouts.[4]

Meteorites

Main article: Meteor
Meteorite

A meteorite fell near the town of Shu Jing.

A meteorite is a natural object originating in outer space that survives an impact with the Earth's surface.

When crafting his sword after concluding his swordsmanship training under Piandao's tutelage, Sokka chose to fashion it from meteorite.[5]

Outer space

Main article: Outer space

Outer space is the term for the massive amount of empty space on the plane of existence surrounding the entire world. It comprises the entire universe. Avatars can travel to outer space when controlling the Avatar State.[6]

Solstices

A solstice is an astronomical event that occurs twice a year when the tilt of the Earth's axis is most oriented toward or away from the sun, causing the star to reach its northernmost or southernmost extreme in the sky during the day. Solstices, as other astronomical phenomena, can be predicted. During the solstice, the Spirit World and the natural world are at their closest, while during the equinox they are at their farthest.[7]

Summer solstice

Main article: Summer solstice
Roku's island

The summer solstice is the longest day of the year.

The summer solstice is a natural phenomenon that occurs when the sun is at the closest angular distance to the equator. The winter solstice and the summer solstice are the only times when the Spirit World and the natural world come close together enough to interact freely with each other for extended periods of time. This event was experienced when Aang meditated in order to communicate with Avatar Roku about the latter's past events experienced when alive, such as his friendship, friendly rivalry and ensuing conflict with his friend and the eventual Fire Lord Sozin.[8]

When Zuko and Aang journeyed to the ancient Sun Warrior civilization, they came across a chamber whose entrance was controlled by a celestial calendar. Zuko determined that the door would only open during a solstice.[9]

Winter solstice

Main article: Winter solstice
Fire Temple at sunset

The winter solstice sees the Spirit World at its closest to the physical world.

The winter solstice is a natural phenomenon that occurs when the sun is at its greatest angular distance from the equator. It is also the shortest day of the year. As the solstice approaches, the natural world and the Spirit World grow closer together until the line between the two is blurred. During the solstices, spirits can exert incredible power in the natural world.[7] This is also the ideal time for people with the ability to enter the Spirit World. Spirits can appear in the real world for a short time on the solstice, like Avatar Roku.[2]

Astronomical objects

Eclipse glasses

Main article: Eclipse glasses

Eclipse glasses are a gadget invented by the mechanist. When the invasion force marched to the Fire Nation Capital on the Day of Black Sun, they could observe the eclipse safely as a means of keeping track of their time. They used these glasses to protect their eyes, as staring directly into an eclipse can damage the retina.[4]

Lunar calendar

A lunar calendar is one that is based on cycles of the moon phase.

Star chart

Main article: Star chart
Chart

Katara used a star chart to navigate through the Si Wong Desert.

The star chart is a map of the stars and constellations. The equivalent of Earth's North Star, Polaris, is centered on the chart, allowing those who use it to find the true direction of north when in the Northern Hemisphere.[10]

Sunstone

Main article: Sunstone

A Sun Warrior treasure, the sunstone is kept hidden inside a room in the Sun Warriors' ancient city which is supposed to be unlockable only during a solstice.[9]

Telescope

Main article: Zuko's telescope

The telescope was an instrument used by Zuko on his ship to spot objects or people from afar.[11]

Astronomical places

Celestial calendar

Located in center of the courtyard at the Sun Warrior city, the celestial calendar is a large orange gem that refracts slivers of light onto a calendar on the ground. This gem is part of a celestial locking system that protects a sacred room. The room can only be opened on specific days, like the summer solstice.[9] The Fire Sages also had such a calendar in the sanctuary of their temple on Crescent Island. As such, Aang was able to go to the temple on the winter solstice to speak to Avatar Roku.[2]

Crescent Island

Main article: Crescent Island

Crescent Island is a volcanic island on the outskirts of the Fire Nation archipelago. The Fire Temple, the only structure on the island, was built there so that it aligned with the solstices and equinoxes as a calendar itself and housed the Fire Sages.[2]

Planetary calendar room

Main article: Planetary calendar room

The planetary calendar room is located in Wan Shi Tong's Library, in the Si Wong Desert. Aang and Sokka used the room to research information about the eclipse to plan the invasion of the Fire Nation.[1]

Trivia

  • In the series, even in the midst of winter, the polar regions experience a normal day and night, while in the real world, the pole's extreme geographic location on the planet would yield either an extremely long period of daylight or an extremely long period of nighttime, depending on the season. If the Earth's axis operates similarly in the World of Avatar as it does in the real world, the North Pole should have been covered in three months of nightfall.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 O'Bryan, John (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (July 14, 2006). "The Library". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 10. Nickelodeon.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (April 15, 2005). "Winter Solstice, Part 2: Avatar Roku". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 1. Episode 8. Nickelodeon.
  3. Ehasz, Aaron (writer) & Filoni, Dave (director). (December 2, 2005). "The Siege of the North, Part 2". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 1. Episode 20. Nickelodeon.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Ehasz, Aaron (writer) & Dos Santos, Joaquim (director). (November 30, 2007). "The Day of Black Sun, Part 2: The Eclipse". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 11. Nickelodeon.
  5. Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (October 12, 2007). "Sokka's Master". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 4. Nickelodeon.
  6. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (December 1, 2006). "The Guru". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 19. Nickelodeon.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Ehasz, Aaron (writer) & MacMullan, Lauren (director). (April 8, 2005). "Winter Solstice, Part 1: The Spirit World". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 1. Episode 7. Nickelodeon.
  8. Ehasz, Elizabeth Welch (writer) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (October 26, 2007). "The Avatar and the Fire Lord". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 6. Nickelodeon.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 O'Bryan, John (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (July 15, 2008). "The Firebending Masters". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 13. Nickelodeon.
  10. Hedrick, Tim (writer) & MacMullan, Lauren (director). (July 14, 2006). "The Desert". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 11. Nickelodeon.
  11. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Filoni, Dave (director). (February 21, 2005). "The Boy in the Iceberg". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 1. Episode 1. Nickelodeon.

See also

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