Michael Chriss

Michael Chriss,

retired Professor of Astronomy

Wednesday, August 26, 2020,

2:30-3:30 p.m.,

a Zoom Webinar*

Note: The Arizona Senior Academy building remains closed.

A British Tar is a soaring soul, as free as a mountain bird. 

His energetic fist should be ready to resist a dictatorial word….    

                                                        (H.M.S. Pinafore, Gilbert and Sullivan)

The English caste system, slavery, capitalism, breadfruit and testosterone, sex and rebellion: this story has it all.  After all, what should His Majesty King George III do to maximize the entrepreneurial profit of his upper classes who needed to feed as cheaply as possible the slaves who were working their Caribbean plantations?  The obvious answer is set off to the paradise of the newly discovered Tahiti and harvest the abundantly growing breadfruit plants found there and transport them to feed their African slaves.  And it should have come as no surprise that after a 6-month harsh journey under Capt. Bligh’s equally harsh command that his able-bodied seamen might have lamented leaving this paradise of freely loving ladies for a stormy journey home.  It was all so predictable . . . wasn’t it?

Written about voluminously, filmed in Hollywood four times in as many decades, the events come to the Arizona Senior Academy in a webinar that tells the tale once again, narrated by Academy Village Resident Astronomer Michael Chriss.  What has any of this to do with astronomy?  Well, navigation of the vast South Seas was what Captain James Cook was perfecting with new methods of astronomy in the later decades of the 18th century.  It was on Cook’s final voyage charting the South Pacific, which ended in disaster in Hawaii in 1779, that Bligh was learning his trade as a Master of one of Cook’s ships.  Cook never made it back, but despite being set adrift in his ship’s launch with loyal crew members and traveling over 3500 nautical miles of the Pacific, Bligh did: and here begins the tale of the Mutiny on the Bounty.

Academy Village resident and retired cruise lecturer Michael Chriss most recently hosted an Arizona Senior Academy Webinar in June of this year.

*Instructions for accessing the Zoom Webinar may be obtained from info@arizonasenioracademy.org. 



Aug. 26: “The Mutiny on the Bounty”