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Category Archives: Historical

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…

Zooniverse Project Announcement

notebook cover

Hi everyone, We are happy to announce that a new project is now up on the Zooniverse website: Star Notes. This project is connected to Project PHaEDRA at the John G. Wolbach Library at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. The goal of Project PHaEDRA is to catalog, digitize, and transcribe…

“A Peculiar Sense of Proprietorship”

[View of Arequipa Station of Harvard College Observatory with mountains in background] B

From 1889 through 1927, the Harvard College Observatory (HCO) operated a southern sky photography station in the Peruvian Andes. Led by Solon Bailey, the expedition spent two seasons observing on ‘Mt. Harvard’ near Chosica (close to Lima), before relocating south to Arequipa in 1891, where clearer weather conditions offered better…

Drive and Joy: Annie Jump Cannon at HCO

Annie Jump Cannon’s astronomy translated the dense skies into a scientific form, and her mere presence made the observatory halls most welcoming and accessible. She could not classify the stars without her colleagues’ help, but they were helpless without her energy and strategy. At the observatory for forty-five years, she…

OOPs!: Trials and travails in the Observatory’s Optics Projects

The first issue of optics is sight. What do you see? How clear is the image? Is it accurate? For astronomers and telescope makers, these questions define the limits of observation, analysis, and conclusion. Through the history of Harvard College Observatory (HCO), the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), and the Harvard…