August 14, 2019
Wilkins And the Bridge
Originally published May 3, 2010
image from Geoffrey B. Scott
I am not the only one who saves everything about the Moon. The recent news about the video of H. Percy Wilkins, reminded Geoffrey that he saved this magazine article when it appeared in 1954! This is page 2 of an article that is largely about the supposed natural bridge reported by an American observer, O'Neill, but promoted most strenuously by Wilkins. O'Neill's precedence is acknowledged (without naming him) but "because he died without registering an official claim" the article credits Wilkins for the discovery. WIlkins recovered it despite the "heavy mists" that sometimes obscure Mare Crisium. Astronomers - anyone other than Wilkins? - believe a "meteorite from outer space may have crashed through a barrier of lava, leaving the arch." I know that articles and even TV appearances can include information and attitudes not held by the interviewee, but this is is pretty enthusiastic support for something that does not exist. The ballyhoo about this supposed 20 mile long and two mile wide arch damaged Wilkin's reputation with professional astronomers and ultimately even the British Astronomical Association, which he was forced to resign from. Like many others, Geoffrey and his father looked for O'Neill's Bridge but couldn't find it. Page 1 of the article is at the bottom of this page.
T. Dobbins and R. Baum (1998) O'Neill's Bridge Remembered. Sky and Telescope 95/1, 105-108.