Friday, September 16, 2011

Birthdate of H. A. Rey

September 16 is the birthdate of the wonderful author H. A. Rey (16 September 1898 - 26 August 1977), best known for the Curious George books, which he created along with his wife Margret.

Readers of this blog will know that H. A. Rey also wrote some of the very best books on the constellations and stargazing, which are discussed in this previous post (among other places on this blog). His innovative method for diagramming the constellations was (and remains) far superior to anything that came before it or that has been devised since, in my personal opinion. It is extremely useful to anyone who wants to go out and try their hand at finding constellations tonight -- for some discussion and examples see this previous post (constellation Virgo) and this previous post (constellation Bo├Âtes).

Rey's books on the stars also contain lucid explanations (with excellent and helpful illustrations) of the concept of the zodiac, the declination and right ascension of stars, the phases of the moon, and the precession of the equinoxes.

Rey's personal life involved escaping with his wife from the Nazi occupation of Paris just in time with the help of two bicycles that he assembled from spare parts. The story is related by Garrison Keillor in today's "Writer's Almanac." Both Rey and his wife were Jewish.

He was born Hans Augusto Reyersbach in Hamburg, Germany.

The world is immensely richer for his life.