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Great Astronomers and their Original Publications

Presentation #547.06 in the session “Education, Outreach, and Public Engagement”.

Published onJan 11, 2021
Great Astronomers and their Original Publications

During fall 2020, I taught a hybrid course on Great Astronomers and their Original Publication, using the first-editions of Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton and others from my own collection and the collection of the Chapin Library of Williams College. The course’s text was the new Cosmos: The Art and Science of the Universe, by Roberta J. M. Olson and me (Reaktion Books, 2019). My own lectures and guest lectures from colleagues around the world were via Zoom, while Williams College’s Chapin Librarian Wayne Hammond met small groups of the 24 enrolled students in a library classroom where the students in groups of four or five (plus one remote section) viewed and handled the actual first editions. The course was “writing intensive” in Williams College’s system, so required 3 papers in draft and final form as well as reports on individual biographies and other books separately assigned. The course was crosslisted among Astronomy, History of Science, Leadership Studies, and Science & Technology Studies departments/programs. Speakers, all via Zoom, included Dan Falk and Peter Usher (Shakespeare’s astronomy), Dava Sobel (Copernicus and Galileo), Robert Littman (Gutenberg), Michael Mendillo (constellation maps), Owen Gingerich (Copernicus and volvelles), Mordechai Feingold (Newton’s Principia census), Nick Wilding (Galileo: Sidereus Nuncius forgery), Meg Ford (Christie’s London; 2020 De Revolutionibus auction), Thomas Lecky (formerly Christie’s New York; now Riverrun Books), James Voelkel '84 (Science History Institute’s library, his Kepler biography); Al Van Helden (Galileo), Hanoch Gutfreund and Jurgen Renn (Einstein), David DeVorkin (George Ellery Hale; Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, H. N. Russell), and Roberta Olson (related art-history). Wayne Hammond (Chapin Librarian) discussed Caroline Herschel and others.

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