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Category Archives: Historical

“A New Method of Finding a Ship’s Position at Sea” by Capt. Thomas H. Sumner

On November 25, 1837, American sea captain, Thomas H. Sumner, departed Charleston, South Carolina on a ship bound for Greenlock, Scotland. While en route, he discovered a new methodology in celestial navigation, later eponymously titled, the “Sumner line” or the circle of equal altitude. On December 17th, after days of…

CfA Special Collections: A Blog Series

The John G. Wolbach Library at the Harvard & Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics is a research library with large historical collections documenting the history of the Harvard College Observatory, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, and the history of astronomical study in the United States more broadly. Included in the library are…

Cultural Astronomy Series: Dismantling the Fathers of Invention

This essay is part of our on-going series on Cultural Astronomy, which will address cultural and historical themes in science and astronomy with the hope of developing open and informed discussion on the complex, historically-rooted challenges facing our community. History loves its fathers. I do not mean biological fathers, but rather…

April Star Notes newsletter

positive plate reproduction

Hi everyone, Hope you’re all doing well! We had a great Women’s History Month, and we hope you did too. We’re so grateful to be able to share the notebooks of the Harvard Computers with our volunteers. We’re thankful for all of our volunteers for their continued support on our…

Cultural Astronomy Series: The Cosmic Mirror

This essay is part of our on-going series on Cultural Astronomy, which will address cultural and historical themes in astronomy with the hope of developing open and informed discussion on the complex, historically-rooted challenges facing our community. What does SETI have to do with issues of culture, equity, and justice?…

Introducing the Cultural Astronomy Blog Series

What skills are required to work as a professional astronomer? The question on its surface sounds easy enough to answer. A typical response might include “a strong grasp of physics”, “knowledge of coding languages”, or perhaps even “analytic thinking”. Yet these answers neglect to recognise another aspect of a career…

March Star Notes Newsletter

tan notebook page with Margaret Harwood signature

Hi everyone, Sam and Nico here, the Star Notes researchers. Hope you’re all doing well! The current astronomer that we have up on our project is Sarah Breslin. It’s Women’s History Month, and we’re looking forward to showcasing the ways in which the women at the Harvard College Observatory impacted…

February Star Notes Newsletter

black nd white image of Cambridge observatory

Hi everyone, Sam and Nico here, the Star Notes researchers. Hope you’re all doing well! Thanks to your efforts, we’ve finished going through all of the notebooks of Henrietta Hill Swope! As you might have seen from our last newsletter, we have a new format where we’re only working on…

January Star Notes Newsletter

tan graph paper with reseau drawn on the pge

Hi everyone, Sam and Nico here, the Star Notes researchers. Happy New Year! Thank you all for your dedication and hard work during the last year! We really appreciate the wonderful community that is associated with this project. We hope you’re all having a nice holiday season. You can view…

December Zooniverse Update

list of Computers and their contributions to Mrs. Bailey's Xmas Gift

Hi all, Sam and Nico here, the researchers behind Star Notes. We hope you are all healthy and doing well. As the holiday season approaches, we hope you’re able to take some time for yourself and your loved ones, especially this year.  As many of you are probably aware, the…