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Category Archives: CfA History

Major Philip Sydney Coolidge (1830 – 1863)

On September 19, 1863, Major Philip Sidney Coolidge died leading the 16th U.S. Infantry into battle at Chickamauga, presumably. A great-grandson of Thomas Jefferson on his mother’s side, and a man who by all accounts lived “a strangely roving adventurous life,” Boston newspapers disagreed over his fate into the early…

George Phillips Bond: HCO and The Civil War

William Cranch Bond, a Boston clockmaker and the founding Director of the Harvard College Observatory, died on January 29, 1859. In less than a month, his son and longtime assistant, George Phillips Bond became the Observatory’s second Director and the Phillips Professor of Astronomy at Harvard College. At the height…

The Hancock Telescope and the Smallpox Epidemic of 1764

In January 1764, the General Court of Massachusetts temporarily adjourned to Cambridge following an outbreak of smallpox in Boston. In the following months, almost a third of the city was inoculated against the disease, including future president John Adams. An estimated 170 people died during the epidemic, 124 from smallpox…

CfA History: Introducing A Summer Blog Series

In recent months, the Covid-19 pandemic has interrupted the daily operations of businesses, schools, and other facets of normal life. Many people, including those at the Center for Astrophysics, have found themselves working remotely or working in modified ways to better adhere to the unique challenges of recent public safety…