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The Aurora Borealis - anyone with photos of it and coins honoring old Sol/Helios?


robinjojo

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Posted (edited)

The display in San Jose has been washed out in part by city lights, so I can only see a greenish band of light near the horizon.  I understand that the display in Europe has been spectacular over the past two nights.  Tonight should be a repeat performance, weather permitting, of this very rare event.

Here are a couple of coins that have been seen before, but here again to honor the solar flare king.

D-CameraArgentina8reales1813sunfaceKM526.9gexH.Christiansen7-10-22.jpg.7420b674c23c6c06647e16ee0d00baba.jpg

D-CameraGallienusTet253-268ADAlexandriaRY14266-267AD10.22gHJB7-20219-18-21.jpg.dc2eb72236df2401e069688e1390bca0.jpg

Edited by robinjojo
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2 minutes ago, Nerosmyfavorite68 said:

I forgot to look outside last night.  Nice coins.

If you have a chance, go outside after 11 pm and look due north, in an area with preferably an unobstructed view.  If you have clear skies, depending on where you live, you should be able to see a green band of light near the horizon, with bright colors above, if you are farther north.

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Here's a coin I have depicting Helios.

97_Full.jpg.da1b8c5ab31821ad0ff4b01edc059b8a.jpg

Memnon of Rhodes
Mysia, Lampsakos Mid 4th century BCE
Æ 8mm, 0.62g
Youthful radiate head of Helios to right. Rev. M - E Rose
Ashton, Memnon 1 (A1/P1). SNG BN -

 

And here are a few photos I took of the recent Aurora Borealis.

331A6061-Edit.jpg.4abbc84918e8518181406ff0bbd3bce6.jpg

 

331A6116-Edit.jpg.c274944dc9cd54c3db9bf355736a78ab.jpg

 

331A6123-Edit.jpg.4344d25882c6c2f020ec63819b6aad21.jpg

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  • robinjojo changed the title to The Aurora Borealis - anyone with photos of it and coins honoring old Sol/Helios?
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Wonderful pictures! 

I wish there was a display like that around San Jose, California, but we're just too far south, plus the city lights wash out much of sky.

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Even in heavy city light pollution, I was able to see some aurora. I still haven't crossed it off my bucket list though: a trip to Iceland or one of the other ideal aurora locations is a high priority!

image.jpeg.08b96e4ea6898a7a74bcc16c9f6613a7.jpeg

And for the related coin, here's my Nero "Colossus" aureus with a statue of Nero as Sol. NAC has an interesting commentary on the type:

"In July AD 64, large sections of Rome were destroyed in a great fire that Nero blamed on Christians living in the city. He made a great show of punishing the supposed arsonists and instituted a fire code in order to prevent or at least reduce the severity of future fires. At the same time, he bought up a great deal of the freshly cleared urban area to erect a vast palace complex known as the Domus Aurea ("Golden House"). In the vestibule of the new palace, Nero ordered the architect Zenodorus to erect a roughly 120-foot-tall statue of himself. This monument to the emperor's vanity was commonly known as the Colossus Neronis ("Colossus of Nero"). After the suicide of Nero in 68 and the Year of the Four Emperors that followed, Vespasian had the statue moved near the site of the Flavian Amphitheater that he and Titus were constructing from the spoils of the Jewish War. Due to the proximity of the statue to the amphitheater, the latter came to be known as the Colosseum. The reverse of the present aureus depicts the colossal statue of Nero at the time of its construction in the Domus Aurea. It represents the Emperor wearing a radiate crown-perhaps partially to draw comparison with the famous Colossus of Rhodes, which represented Helios, the Greek sun-god. This detail proves the claims of Suetonius to be false concerning the Colossus Neronis. He reported that Vespasian tried to mask the statue as an image of the disgraced Nero by adding a radiate crown and renaming it as the Colossus Solis ("Colossus of the Sun"), but the reverse type here makes it very clear that it was intended to depict Nero as Sol from the very beginning. The Colossus of Nero is often thought to have been toppled in an earthquake or destroyed during the Visigothic sack of Rome. However, the ambiguous evidence of a poem by the English monk Bede the Venerable (673-735) has been used to suggest that the statue still stood in the seventh century."

image.jpeg.7bdf71056dc9dba7cd17386b8af41ae4.jpeg

 

Ex. H.P. Smith Esq, Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, June 5, 1905 lot 405;

Ex. Sotheby Wilkinson & Hodge, December 6, 1907 lot 111

Ex. Dr Eugen Merzbacher Munchen November, 2, 1909 lot 1204

Ex. Dr Jacob Hirsch Auction 33, November 17, 1913, lot 1144

Ex. Robert Ball Nachf Auction 6, February 9, 1932 lot 1037

Ex. Kunker 117 Sept 28, 2006, lot 5040

Ex. UBS 72, 2007, Los Nr. 209 (Numismatic Objects of Virtue)

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Posted · Supporter

Islamic. Seljuqs of Rum. Ghiyath al-Din Kay Khusraw II. First reign, AH 634-644/AD 1237-1246. AR Dirham (23mm, 3.00g, 12h). Siwas mint. Dated AH 638 (AD 1240/1241). Obv: Lion advancing right, with paw raised; star and sun above. Rev: Name and titles in four lines within square border; mint and date in outer margin. Ref: Album 1218; M. 982; ICV 1340.

image.jpeg.4decf89e74e306121081d306f98745b8.jpeg

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Posted (edited)

image.jpeg.10bad2188c0c980e8bb35f8ab7aa4a07.jpeg
 

Karia. Rhodes. Circa 305-275 BC. AR Didrachm (6.46g, 19mm). Obv.: head of Helios three-quarters right. Rev.: ΡΟΔΙΟΝ, rose with bud on right, grape cluster in left field, E-Y flanking stem. SNG Helsinki 454; Ashton 158; Weber 6716. VF.

 

Edited by MrMonkeySwag96
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14 hours ago, AncientJoe said:

In the vestibule of the new palace, Nero ordered the architect Zenodorus to erect a roughly 120-foot-tall statue of himself. This monument to the emperor's vanity was commonly known as the Colossus Neronis ("Colossus of Nero"). After the suicide of Nero in 68 and the Year of the Four Emperors that followed, Vespasian had the statue moved near the site of the Flavian Amphitheater that he and Titus were constructing from the spoils of the Jewish War.

I'm not sure that the depiction of radiate Nero on your coin is necessarily that of the Colossus Neronis, since per medallions of Gordian III the pose appears to be different, with the radiate figure holding a rudder in his right hand.

https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/C_R-5048

image.png.8b6ee6ddb9d77cd75419aa9598c8d3f8.png

image.png.f29e7af5829c0d62bd17f3c45a1c77e8.png

This artists depiction may be correct in having his left arm supported by a column, as a matter of practicality.

image.png.b72e4f19967e649d20119bfd585ea6c3.png

The NAC description has Vespasian moving the statue from Nero's Domus Aureus vestibule, but according to the Historia Augusta (Hadrian 19.12) this didn't occur until the time of Hadrian, when he needed to move the statue to make room for the temple of Roma and Venus, and did so via the labor of 24 elephants!

https://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Historia_Augusta/Hadrian/2*.html

 

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Posted (edited)
49 minutes ago, Heliodromus said:

I'm not sure that the depiction of radiate Nero on your coin is necessarily that of the Colossus Neronis, since per medallions of Gordian III the pose appears to be different, with the radiate figure holding a rudder in his right hand.

https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/C_R-5048

image.png.8b6ee6ddb9d77cd75419aa9598c8d3f8.png

image.png.f29e7af5829c0d62bd17f3c45a1c77e8.png

This artists depiction may be correct in having his left arm supported by a column, as a matter of practicality.

image.png.b72e4f19967e649d20119bfd585ea6c3.png

The NAC description has Vespasian moving the statue from Nero's Domus Aureus vestibule, but according to the Historia Augusta (Hadrian 19.12) this didn't occur until the time of Hadrian, when he needed to move the statue to make room for the temple of Roma and Venus, and did so via the labor of 24 elephants!

https://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Historia_Augusta/Hadrian/2*.html

 

Thanks for the reply! I agree that NAC misstated Vespasian moving the statue - they should have said Hadrian. That said, the argument of the Nero "Colossus" type conflicting with Suetonius' commentary of Vespasian modifying the statue to include a crown does hold some weight in my eyes. The coin could also indicate that Nero intended to include a radiate crown but didn't include it: I don't have an alternate explanation for what would be depicted on the reverse other than "emperor as Sol".

Aurei are also rather small compared to the canvas of a medallion so it may have just been an artistic liberty to depict only the idealized form of the statue without the required supports. Gordian III's medallion issues were also produced to coincide with renovations of the Colosseum after earthquakes: it may be that the original statue fell and they realized they needed additional supports to keep it upright for the next few hundred years.

And, one final point: Vespasian has an entirely different depiction from both the medallion and Nero's aureus so truth may be somewhere in the middle (not my coin but a good illustrative example):

image.jpeg.d75d9f0ca2dbe760f691902362b6d539.jpeg

 

EDIT: I also meant to include this aureus of Nero which is again a slightly different depiction but a middle-ground from just the plain statue:

image.jpeg.6c4ba3a1d2c9d9578e8977e677b4f3d3.jpeg

Definitely interested in any alternate thoughts though! 

Edited by AncientJoe
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IMG_1136.jpeg.c89a79078f6126dfdebc24fb385fcb94.jpegIMG_1137.jpeg.a13d556aac19b754c6fe78be6e5902ac.jpeg
L Mussidius Longus, 42 BC

IMG_1458.jpeg.de5b8a8cf7ae536ad0a484c27091621e.jpegIMG_1459.jpeg.59ba3cefe67e71068a92b9f2c0aaaf38.jpeg

P Clodius M f Turrinus, 42BC

IMG_1460.jpeg.07e55bead1ec5df6465c1d53fd29bd33.jpegIMG_1455.jpeg.6db0c5e1a51869884ece5046d0f92ec6.jpeg

Marc Antony, 38-37 BC

Despite driving 30 minutes out to the farmland of a neighboring county Saturday night and trespassing onto a remote farm road at midnight (no shots rang out), my wife and I saw nothing! Of course we missed out on Friday night when all of our friends posted spectacular pictures of what they saw.

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Posted (edited)
45 minutes ago, AncientJoe said:

And, one final point: Vespasian has an entirely different depiction from both the medallion and Nero's aureus so truth may be somewhere in the middle (not my coin but a good illustrative example):

That figure is on a Rostral column though, so can't be the Colossus. It's interesting to see the radiate figure in apparent context of naval victories though!

Edited by Heliodromus
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I made an attempt to photograph the Aurora Borealis with my cantankerous digital camera, the first time I tried using it in a night setting.  I live near San Jose, California, so the display wasn't nearly as vivid as it was farther north, plus city lights affected the overall display.  So, here's a picture from my backyard around 12.30 am last night.  That's an elementary school playing field and high school across the way.

NorthernLightsCupertino5-13-24lighter.jpg.734fdadafda0a3d5dd33c0f760bc65a7.jpg

 

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Posted (edited)

I snapped a couple of shots with my phone. Mostly green flowing, curtain like highlights. Quite impressive here actually as the radiant point appeared to be around the star Arcturus, where the pinks and violets were visible. I'm only 30 miles from the border with British Columbia. I certainly never saw it before moving up from the SF Bay Area save for a time at my grandmother's farm in North Dakota when I was a kid.

Here's 'Ol Sol once again...from my Probus avatar coin. We certainly are "conserved/protected by our atmosphere otherwise we would be toast, quite literally.

prob2.jpg.6158c2ff3d73973cbdce9e5051e5403b.jpg

 

Here a couple of shots on the Astronomy Forum where I am a Co-Administrator...

 

Aurora Borealis May 11 - TheSkySearchers

 

 

Edited by Ancient Coin Hunter
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Hi All,

The Greek incarnation of Aurora was Eos, the goddess of the dawn. Eos is the sister of Helios, the god of the sun, and Selene, the goddess of the moon.

From Wikipedia: "In Greek literature, Eos is presented as a daughter of the Titans Hyperion and Theia, the sister of the sun god Helios and the moon goddess Selene. In rarer traditions, she is the daughter of the Titan Pallas. Each day she drives her two-horse chariot, heralding the breaking of the new day and her brother's arrival. Thus, her most common epithet of the goddess in the Homeric epics is Rhododactylos, or "rosy-fingered", a reference to the sky's colours at dawn, and Erigeneia, "early-born". Although primarily associated with the dawn and early morning, sometimes Eos would accompany Helios for the entire duration of his journey, and thus she is even seen during dusk." [For more see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eos ]

Here are two Alexandria drachmas showing Eos holding a torch and trying to hold onto one of the horses of the sun.

image.png.9099e4c1d1d4f89a1f16cf86ec3a1b7e.png

LUCIUS VERUS (7 Mar 161 - 169 CE)
ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT Year 04 (163/164 CE)
Æ Drachm
Size: 33 mm
Weight: 26.3 g
Axis: 11:30
Broucheion Collection R-1995-08-11.002

Obv: Lucius Verus laureate draped bust facing right. Legend: [ΛAYPHΛIOC] - OYHPOCCЄB. Border not visible.
Rev: Eos standing facing left with head turned to right. Holding torch inoutstretched right hand. Left hand leading one of the horses of the sun facing right with head turned to left. Above: Hω; Left field: [L]; Right field: Δ. Dotted border.
Refs: Emmett-2391.04 var: HWC; Geissen-2153 var: HWC & date above; Dattari-3719; Dattari-Savio pl 199; RPC IV.4-2642; Milne-2499; BMC-1372 var: L-Δ.

image.png.2cc2d2b2f44c3c7aeadab0af7064fab3.png

LUCIUS VERUS (7 Mar 161 - 169 CE)
ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT Year 04 (163/164 CE)
Æ Drachm
Size: 32x33 mm
Weight: 20.9 g
Axis: 11:00
Broucheion Collection R-2020-09-12.001

Obv: Lucius Verus laureate draped bust facing right. Legend: [ΛAYPHΛIOC - OYH]P[OCCЄB]. Border not visible.
Rev: Eos standing facing left with head turned to right. Holding torch inoutstretched right hand. Left hand leading one of the horses of the sun facing right with head turned to left. Above: L[Δ]; Below right: Hω. Dotted border.
Refs: Emmett-2391.04 var: HWC; Geissen-2153; Dattari-3721 pl xii (rev); Dattari-Savio pl 199; RPC IV.4-2659; Milne-2499; BMC-1372 var: L-Δ; Mionnet-2242.

- Broucheion

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