Viewing the Universe from the Dibner Library

*+-The Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology was created from a gift by Bern Dibner, electrical engineer, inventor, collector, and science historian. At the heart of this collection are Dibner’s “Heralds of Science” ,  200 seminal works that Dibner himself believed marked significant scientific advancement in their respective fields. One area that is particularly fascinating is the astronomy section.

Digitization Dispatch: Selections from the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology

*+-Greetings! The Smithsonian History, Art, and Culture digital collection recently added a number of titles from the special collections housed at the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology.

New “Astronomical” Acquisition

*+-The Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology recently enriched its collection with an intriguing 16th century work in astronomy, Christop Clavius’s In sphaeram Ioannis de Sacro Bosco commentarius. Romae, 1570. Apud Victorium Helianum.

Summer Solstice

*+-It’s the astronomical official start of summer — enjoy!

Discovering Pluto

*+-The planet Pluto was discovered by astronomer Clyde Tombaugh on this date in 1930. He used a 13-inch astrograph to photograph and identify the planet. Tombaugh also believed in the possiblily of extraterrestrial activity and claimed to have seen UFOs.

Paparazzo to the Stars

*+-On this day in 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope started sending images from space. The first image was of a cluster 1,350 light years from Earth, NGC 3532, in the Carina constellation. Over the past 20 years, Hubble has been sending images of ever greater value thanks to five servicing missions by Space Shuttle astronauts. Among its countless achievements are improved estimates of the age of the universe, new data on the rate at which the universe is expanding, data on galaxies the way they were billions of years ago and on the prevalence of black holes at the center of nearby galaxies, and evidence of extrasolar planets.  Some figures: Hubble orbits around the Earth at an altitude of 570 km and speed of 28,000 km/hr. It weighs 11,000 kg, measures 13 m x 4 m diameter, and its primary mirror has a diameter of 2.4 m. It ‘sees’ wavelengths in the ultraviolet to infrared range.  Energy consumption is 2,800 watts, supplied by two solar panels. Each week, Hubble generates more »

Uranus Discovered by William Herschel in 1781

*+-Portrait of William Herschel Astronomer Sir Frederick William Herschel on March 13, 1781 discovered the planet Uranus.He also later in his career discovered infrared radiation while testing telescope filters. His sister Caroline, who worked as his assistant, discovered eight comets and three nebulae. Her work was acknowledged by the Royal Astronomical Academy. The Libraries has portraits of Herschel in its online collection, Scientific Identity: Portraits from the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology. —Elizabeth Periale

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