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Category Archives: Historical

Joel H. Metcalf Biography (Part 1)

 Joel Hastings Metcalf Part 1: From An Early Age The Reverend Joel Hastings Metcalf was a passionate figure who made many important and fascinating contributions to the field of astronomy at Harvard during the early part of the 20th century. Being trained and educated as a minister, astronomy was not…

Boyden Observatory through the 60″ Rockefeller Reflector

The 60-inch Rockefeller Reflector is one of the main telescopes at Boyden Observatory, currently located in Bloemfontein, South Africa. It all started when Uriah A. Boyden, a mechanical engineer in Boston, MA, donated $238,000 to Harvard College in 1879 to extend astronomical research. With the newly acquired money, Harvard declared…

The Damon Telescopes

One of the biggest contributions of Edward Pickering, who was the director of Harvard College Observatory for 42 years (1876-1918), is initiating a program to map the variability of objects in the night sky [1]. One of the main consequences of this program was to collect a huge number of…

Rediscovering the Horsehead Nebula

Rediscovering the Horsehead Nebula There are currently about 500,000 photographic plates residing at the Harvard College Observatory. The collection is unique in its coverage of the sky (both the northern and southern hemispheres), its coverage of time (data dating back to the 1880s), as well as its sheer size (the…

John G. Wolbach Library

John G. Wolbach Library, 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA

The John G. Wolbach Library combines the collections of the Harvard College Observatory (HCO) Library and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) Library, forming one of the world’s preeminent astronomical collections. The joint collection is known as the John G. Wolbach Library at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. The principal subject areas contained within…

Every Star Speaks for Itself

Every Star Speaks for Itself: Williamina Fleming and the Work of the Harvard College Observatory by Maria C. McEachern In collaboration with fellow John G. Wolbach Library colleagues:  Michael R. Blake, Amy L. Cohen, Christopher C. Erdmann and William L. Graves To those with merely a cursory interest, the marks on the…