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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…

Visual Astronomy Display: May 2020

The Wolbach Library wishes good health to everyone during this unprecedented global crisis. Highlights… The first observed interstellar comet, 2I/Borisov, shed millions of gallons of water into space; Watch a vintage NASA Aeronautics and Space Report on Moon spacewear; The Hubble Telescope celebrates 30 years of operation with a slideshow…

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…

Visual Astronomy Display: April 2020

The Wolbach Library wishes good health to everyone during this unprecedented global crisis. This month’s playlist includes some videos relating to COVID-19, including advice from astronauts about social distancing, book recommendations for quarantine, and speculation on how getting sick on Mars or the Moon might differ from getting sick on…

Visual Astronomy Display: March 2020

Image of the Milky Way Galaxy

Last week, “human computer” Katharine Johnson passed away. Johnson’s calculations of orbital mechanics were instrumental to the success of NASA’s Apollo missions. One of the first African-American women scientists to work at NASA, Johnson’s time at NASA was fictionalized in the 2016 film Hidden Figures.  This month’s playlist includes videos…

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…