22 posts tagged with astronomy and history. (View popular tags)
Displaying 1 through 22 of 22. Subscribe:

Etretat, Sunset, February 5th, 1883, 4:53 PM local time

Dating an Impressionist's Sunset. "Famed French Impressionist Claude Monet created a striking scene of the Normandy coast in his 1883 painting, Étretat: Sunset. Now a team of Texas State University researchers, led by astronomer and physics professor Donald Olson, has applied its distinctive brand of forensic astronomy to Monet’s masterpiece, uncovering previously unknown details about the painting’s origins." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Jan 25, 2014 - 21 comments

 

Naturalis Historia

"My subject is a barren one – the world of nature, or in other words life; and that subject in its least elevated department, and employing either rustic terms or foreign, nay barbarian words that actually have to be introduced with an apology. Moreover, the path is not a beaten highway of authorship, nor one in which the mind is eager to range: there is not one of us who has made the same venture, nor yet one Roman who has tackled single-handed all departments of the subject."
Naturalis Historia was written by Pliny the Elder between 77 and 79 CE and was meant to serve as a kind of proto-encyclopedia discussing all of the ancient knowledge available to him, covered in enough depth and breadth to make it by a reasonable margin the largest work to survive to the modern day from the Roman era. The work includes discussions on astronomy, meteorology, geography, mineralogy, zoology and botany organized along Aristotelian divisions of nature but also includes essays on human inventions and institutions. It is dedicated to the Emperor Titus in its epistle to the Emperor Vespasian, a close friend of Pliny who relied on his extensive knowledge, and its unusually careful citations of sources as well as its index makes it a precursor to modern scholarly works. It was Pliny's last work, as well as sadly his sole surviving one, and was published not long before his death attempting to save a friend from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum, famously recounted by Pliny's eponymous nephew Pliny the Younger.
Here is a reasonable translation that is freely available to download from archive.org for your edification.
[more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Dec 16, 2013 - 24 comments

Up at the top there's a bucket and a mop and -

O’Bryan walked me slowly down the steep side of the mesa, to the desert floor, so I could see Star Axis in its entirety. The work’s centrepiece is a 10-storey staircase that lets you walk up through the rock of the mesa, your eyes fixed on a small circular opening that cuts through the top of the pyramid. The first section of the staircase is roofless and open to the sky, but the end of it has a stone overhang that makes it look and feel like a tunnel. This ‘star tunnel’, as Ross calls it, is precisely aligned with Earth’s axis. If you bored a tunnel straight through the Earth’s core, from the South Pole to North Pole, and climbed up it, you’d see the same circle of sky that you do when you walk through Ross’ tunnel. Gazing up through it in the afternoon glare, I saw a patch of blue, the size and shape of a dime held at arm’s length. But if the sun had blinked for a moment, fading the heavens to black, I’d have seen Polaris, glittering at the end of the tunnel, like a solitary diamond in the void.
"Embracing the Void," Ross Andersen, Aeon.
posted by Rustic Etruscan on Oct 17, 2013 - 9 comments

Galileo and impolitic science

Moon Man: What Galileo saw. [Via]
posted by homunculus on Feb 7, 2013 - 28 comments

So high, so low, so many things to know.

January 13, 2013 marks the 125th anniversary of the National Geographic Society. The Magazine is celebrating by taking a yearlong look at the past and future of exploration. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jan 8, 2013 - 10 comments

The vanishing groves

The vanishing groves: A chronicle of climates past and a portent of climates to come – the telling rings of the bristlecone pine.
posted by homunculus on Oct 17, 2012 - 19 comments

What came before Pangea? What comes next?

A history of the world. As seen from space. Over a really long stretch of time. If the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old, and Pangea split up only about 200 million years ago, what happened before then? I never knew that geologists could reconstruct the continents' movements from before Pangea. Not only that, but they can give us a preview of what comes next. Here's three possible ways the continents might be joined in 250 million years. In the big picture, researchers from U.C. Lancashire have just finished a model of the way the Milky Way Galaxy formed. [more inside]
posted by Sleeper on Aug 6, 2012 - 34 comments

"A situation in many respects similar to ours"

For a time in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was erroneously believed that there were canals on Mars.
Maps of the Martian canals. List of Martian Canals. Historical Globes of the Red Planet.
A modern perspective. The Planet Mars: A History of Observation and Discovery .
posted by timshel on Feb 12, 2012 - 26 comments

Doggone.

One hundred years ago today, the Nakhla meteorite fell to earth in Abu Hommos, Egypt, bearing possible evidence of life on Mars. And possibly vaporizing a dog. [more inside]
posted by MrVisible on Jun 28, 2011 - 15 comments

The Wonder of God in Nature

Die Wunder Gottes in der Natur (1744) illustrates astronomical, meteorological, geological, spiritual, and psychological visions, based on the work of 16th century Alsatian encyclopedist Conrad Lycosthenes.

The cover and title page.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot on May 5, 2011 - 7 comments

Andreas Cellarius and his Harmonia Macrocosmica

Andreas Cellarius was a scholar of the 17th Century who produced one of the most famous cosmological atlases of all time, Harmonia Macrocosmica, featuring 29 beautiful plates (large, high-quality scans), illustrating various aspects of the Universe as understood by the Western science of his time. It's impossible to pick favorites among them, but here are three examples: Phases of the Moon, Sizes of the Celestial Bodies and Stars and Constellations of the Northern Sky.
posted by Kattullus on Apr 23, 2011 - 16 comments

Women of the Royal Society and elsewhere

The Royal Society's lost women scientists. Women published in the Royal Society, 1890-1930. Most influential British women in the history of science. Women at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. Heroines of Science. Women Biochemists, 1906-1939. Women in Science. Previously: The Women of ENIAC.
posted by mediareport on Jan 12, 2011 - 9 comments

Happy 40th anniversary, mankind.

Moon Landing Tapes Found! [more inside]
posted by sexyrobot on Jul 2, 2009 - 93 comments

"Women hold up half the sky"--Chinese proverb

Pickering and the Female Computers. In 1881, Edward Pickering, the director of the Harvard College Observatory, became so impatient with a male lab assistant’s work that he famously declared his maid could do a better job. Rather than take offense, his 24-year-old maid, Williamina Fleming, instead took him up on the offer. She ended up working at the Observatory for the next 30 years, supervising the tedious work of cataloging photographic plates, but also discovering variable stars and novae, helping to develop a classification system—and, perhaps even more importantly, hiring nearly 40 female assistants, many of whom went on to have distinguished scientific careers. [more inside]
posted by mothershock on Sep 20, 2008 - 27 comments

Orders of Magnitude

Leave the planet to travel into the largest structures of the universe, then plunge into the tiniest. Forty two orders of magnitude in thirty six minutes.... Cosmic Voyage. (single link Google video via) [more inside]
posted by Kronos_to_Earth on May 30, 2008 - 11 comments

Antique Celestial Maps

The U.S. Naval Observatory Library features high-res scans of images from antique books dealing with astronomy and navigation. Wallpapers, ahoy!
posted by Gator on Jul 13, 2006 - 18 comments

The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich has some excellent online collections related to maritime history and technology, including telescopes, marine chronometers, sundials, and a whole lot more. Some stuff I've been looking at: John Harrison's chronometers (described in Dava Sobel's book Longitude), polyhedral sundials, and pocket globes.
posted by carter on Mar 15, 2006 - 4 comments

Cage Match: Gravity Leakage vs. Dark Matter

In 1962, Thomas Kuhn published The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. It questioned not only the "progressive" model of scientific history, but also bled over into other disciplines and brought into question human perception of just about everything else. (coining the questionable phrase "paradigm shift" in the process.)

One of the most interesting shifts came in the battle about the (not totally forgotten) aether. A modern day equivalent might be "dark matter," an undetected form of matter that explains some of the quirky behavior of gravity. Or, it could all be gravity leakage.
Let the battle begin! (The winner might just set the course of astrophysics for the next generation, or even lead to the holy grail.)
(see also here.)
posted by absalom on Mar 1, 2005 - 26 comments

The Great Bear

The Great Bear in Maine.
posted by homunculus on Oct 28, 2004 - 3 comments

Isabel Gill, Victorian Stargazer

IN 1877 Isabel Gill visited an inhospitable volcanic blob in the mid-Atlantic to help her husband with ground-breaking astronomical measurements. Then she wrote a wrote a book about it, including an attempt to explain to fellow Victorian ladies the concept of a solar parallax in terms she thought they might be able to grasp:"I myself do not understand mathematical terms, so how could I use them with the hope of explaining these things to my readers? However, I can use knitting-needles, and perhaps they may do just as well."
Wierdly, more than a century later another astronomer visited the site and found the sandy paths which marked the Gill's lava-top camp still undisturbed by the Atlantic winds.
posted by penguin pie on Sep 16, 2004 - 17 comments

Harmonia Macrocosmica

Harmonia Macrocosmica. A digitised book of seventeenth-century astronomy.
posted by plep on Jan 28, 2004 - 4 comments

Archaeoastronomy

Archaeoastronomy examines how ancient cultures studied and worshipped the heavens. From the arrangement of the Stonehenge stelae to the Mayan reverence for the planet Venus, this science has resulted in some fascinating and often beautiful discoveries, including star charts found in tombs in Ireland and Japan, the Lascaux caves in France, and rock paintings of a supernova in 1054 that resulted in the Crab Nebula. My personal favorite is the “Sun Dagger” in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico (scroll down for photos).
posted by gottabefunky on Aug 19, 2002 - 11 comments

Page: 1