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Category Archives: Historical

Annie Jump Cannon and the Case of the Missing Columns

About a week ago we received two emails from volunpeer transcribers who have been working on Project PHaEDRA at the Smithsonian Transcription Center.  They both wrote to ask about the number of columns found on the right hand pages of several Annie Jump Cannon volumes, and it kicked off an…

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…

May Zooniverse Newsletter

large magellanic cloud image

Hi everyone! Sam and Nico here, the Zooniverse Star Notes project coordinators. First, we hope that you are all staying safe and healthy. We’re immensely thankful to all of our volunteers. These are stressful times and we hope that this project can provide some community right now, especially when we’re…

Harvard Computers features on Atlas Obscura

Atlas Obscura article

On April 7th, 2020, the Wolbach Library at the Center for Astrophysics  | Harvard & Smithsonian was featured in an article on the travel website Atlas Obscura. The article, “Even More Ways to Help Librarians and Archivists From Home” by Jessica Leigh Hester, features six different transcription and citizen science…

Star Notes Month 2 Update

Hi everyone! Sam and Nico here, the organizers of the the Zooniverse Star Notes project. We just wanted to take this time to express our immense gratitude. These are very difficult and uncertain times; we hope that all of our volunteers are safe and healthy. Taking care of ourselves and…

A History in Handwriting: The Directors of the CfA

In the mid-19th century, the popular exchange of current scholarship between academic institutions led to the creation of Harvard College Observatory astronomical literature collection. At that time, the materials were housed in the Phillips Library, where they remained into the early 20th century. The collection continued to grow, and in…

Star Notes 1 Month Update

front page of Star Notes on Zooniverse

Hi everyone! Sam and Nico here, from the Wolbach Library. One month ago, we launched our Zooniverse project Star Notes, a crowdsourcing project that continues the work of Project PHaEDRA. Can you believe that it’s already been a month since we launched our project? We are super grateful to everyone…