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It was adapted into a novel with Robert Silverberg in The short story has been included in 48 anthologies, and has appeared in six collections of Asimov's stories. It was the 32nd story by Asimov, written while he was a graduate student in chemistry at Columbia University.

Campbell asked Asimov to write the story after discussing with him a quotation from Ralph Waldo Emerson: If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore, and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God! Campbell's opinion was to the contrary: He and Asimov chose the title "Nightfall" together. His name appeared on the cover of Astounding for the first time, and the story made Asimov—who later said that before "Nightfall" neither he nor anyone else other than perhaps Campbell considered him more than a "third rater"—one of the industry's top writers.

In , Martin H. Greenberg suggested Asimov find someone who would take his year-old short story and — keeping the story essentially as written — add a detailed beginning and a detailed ending to it. As Asimov relates in the Robert Silverberg chapter of his autobiography, " Eventually, I received the extended Nightfall manuscript from Bob [Silverberg] Bob did a wonderful job and I could almost believe I had written the whole thing myself. He remained absolutely faithful to the original story and I had very little to argue with. The planet Lagash "Kalgash" in the novel is constantly illuminated by at least one of the six suns of its multiple star system.

Lagash has areas of darkness in caves, tunnels, etc.

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A skeptical journalist visits a university observatory to interview a group of scientists who warn that civilization will soon end. One of the researchers explains that they have discovered evidence of numerous ancient civilizations on Lagash, all destroyed by fire, with each collapse occurring about 2, years apart.

The religious writings of a doomsday cult claim that Lagash periodically passes through a dark cave where mysterious " stars " appear. The stars are said to rain down fire from the heavens and rob people of their souls, reducing them to beast-like savages.

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The scientists use this apparent myth, along with recent discoveries in gravitational research, to develop a theory about the repeated collapse of society. A mathematical analysis of Lagash's orbit around its primary sun reveals irregularities caused by an undiscovered moon that is invisible in the light of the six suns. Calculations indicate that this moon will soon obscure one of Lagash's suns when it is alone in the sky, resulting in a total eclipse that occurs once every 2, years.


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Having evolved on a planet with no diurnal cycle , Lagashians possess an intense, instinctive fear of the dark and have never experienced a long period of total darkness, but the eclipse will last for "well over half a day". The scientists theorize that earlier civilizations were destroyed by people who became insane during previous eclipses and—desperate for any light source—started large fires that destroyed cities. Oral accounts of the chaos from crazed survivors and small children were passed down through the ages and became the basis for the cult's sacred texts.

Present-day civilization is doomed for the same reasons, but the researchers hope that detailed observations of the eclipse will help to break the cycle of societal collapse. The scientists are unprepared, however, for the stars. Because of the perpetual daylight on Lagash, its inhabitants are unaware of the existence of stars apart from their own; astronomers believe that the entire universe is no more than a few light years in diameter and may hypothetically contain a small number of other suns.

But Lagash is located in the center of a " giant cluster ," and during the eclipse, the night sky—the first that people have ever seen—is filled with more than 30, newly visible stars.

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Learning that the universe is far more vast—and Lagash far more insignificant—than they believed causes everyone, including the scientists, to become insane. Outside the observatory, in the direction of the city, the horizon begins glowing with the light of spreading fires as "the long night" returns to Lagash. The system of Kalgash has six stars named Alpha, Beta, etc. See more words from the same year. More Definitions for nightfall.

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See the full definition for nightfall in the English Language Learners Dictionary. Words that rhyme with nightfall. Translation of nightfall for Spanish Speakers. Translation of nightfall for Arabic Speakers. What made you want to look up nightfall? Please tell us where you read or heard it including the quote, if possible. Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way. Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free! Do you feel lucky?


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Our Word of the Year justice , plus 10 more. How we chose 'justice'. And is one way more correct than the others?

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How to use a word that literally drives some people nuts. The awkward case of 'his or her'. Identify the word pairs with a common ancestor. Test your visual vocabulary with our question challenge! Examples of nightfall in a Sentence When nightfall came, we were still waiting for the electricity to come back on.


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Case, Smithsonian , "These Portuguese Libraries Are Infested With Bats—and They Like It That Way," 7 June The guests perched on mirrored cubes amid the great stone ruins to watch the show after nightfall , the runway strafed by fire and lit by the flickering of iron candelabras with elaborate scrollwork.