Observing with Hartung

I had always wanted a copy of Hartung’s 1968 Astronomical Objects for Southern Telescopes book. And back in September it fell serendipitously into my lap when I received a treasure trove of books from Harry Kanowitz .

The Leviathan of Parsonstown

Halloween night being all about monsters, I spent it out in the dark thinking of a telescope big enough to be named after a monster – the Leviathan of Parsonstown – built in 1845 by Irish nobleman William Parsons.

Stargazing with Antonín Bečvář

Last night I got to use the most elegant star atlas of all – Antonín Bečvář’s Atlas Coeli 1950.0. It is simultaneously a work of art, a painstaking presentation of voluminous astronomical knowledge and a magnificent paean to the skies.

Henrietta Swan Leavitt and the SMC

I can’t observe the Small Magellanic Cloud without thinking of Henrietta Swan Leavitt – ‘the woman who discovered how to measure the Universe’, as George Johnson, author of the book Miss Leavitt’s Stars, put it.

Hypatia, Mathematician and Astronomer

On the northwest shore of the Moon’s lovely little Sinus Asperitatis lies a crater that commemorates Hypatia, one of the last great thinkers of ancient Alexandria, and one of the first women to study and teach mathematics, astronomy and philosophy.