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In the 19th century, the French astronomer Urban Le Verrier – known for the discovery of Neptune – found that the precession of Mercury perihelion was bigger than Newton's theory of gravity had predicted. In an attempt to explain the discrepancy, he presumed the existence of a planetary mass located between the Sun and Mercury. The idea gained traction when an amateur astronomer, Edmond Lescarbault, claimed to have seen the planet transiting the sun on March 26th, 1859. After meeting him to confirm the observation, Urban Le Verrier was convinced; he rapidly announced the discovery of the new planet, naming it Vulcano. A hunt by both professional and amateur astronomers began, but nothing was ever found. It simply wasn't there. 

The hypothesis only collapsed in 1915, with the discovery of Einstein’s theory of general relativity. An entirely different approach to the understanding of gravity was introduced, presuming that space and time were dynamic rather than static. Consequently, a vast mass like the sun creates curvature in space-time, shaping Mercury’s orbit itself. The existence of another planet was no longer a viable possibility. My project presents the rediscovery of Vulcano and its imaginary cosmos. It joins together pictures and geological features from a small island called Vulcano, a black and white archive, a video, photograms of rocks, and Einstein’s grid of relativity.

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