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Category Archives: Historical

September Star Notes Update

Hi everyone, Hope you’re doing well! We’re so thankful for the hard work of our volunteers; we know it’s been a busy summer, so thanks for spending some of it with us! We still have the remaining notebooks of Frances Woodworth Wright on our project, but look out for the…

“The Theory of Light” by Thomas Preston

Dr. Thomas Preston (1860-1900) was an Irish scientist, notable for his 1897 discovery of the Anomalous Zeeman Effect. In addition to his work in magnetism and spectroscopy, Preston was an adept textbook author during the late-19th century when the emerging professionalization of the sciences elicited demand for formal educational materials….

August Star Notes Update

Hi everyone, Hope you’re all doing well! As always, we really appreciate your dedication as volunteers. We currently have the notebooks of Frances Woodworth Wright on our project. Wright (1897-1989) earned a Bachelor’s degree from Brown in 1920 and received a PhD in astronomy from Barnard in 1958. She taught…

“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…

July Star Notes Update

Hi everyone, Happy summer! Thanks so much for your hard work on the project–we are so grateful for everything our volunteers have done! We currently have the notebooks of Mollie O’Reilly on our project. Mollie O’Reilly worked at the Harvard College Observatory from 1906-1918. She became Mrs. Mollie Sloan in…

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…

June Star Notes Update

Hi everyone, Hope you’re all doing well! Thanks so much for your continued efforts on our project.  Martha Borton’s notebooks were completed quickly; as always, we’re amazed by the continuous support from our volunteers. We currently have Mary Fowler’s notebooks on the project. Fowler’s work mostly focused on lunar plates. …

May Star Notes Updates

Hi everyone, Hope you’re all doing well! Thanks so much for your continued efforts on our project. We’re at 8,000 volunteers on Star Notes, which is a huge milestone! We were recently able to complete all the notebooks of  Ida Woods and Hannah Locke. Locke’s notebooks were completed in just…

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…