Menu

ENHA-49

***************************************************************************
*                                                                         *
*           ELECTRONIC NEWSLETTER FOR THE HISTORY OF ASTRONOMY            *
*                                                                         *
*      Published by the Working Group for the History of Astronomy        *
*                  in the Astronomische Gesellschaft                      *
*                                                                         *
*                    Number 49,  December 19, 2001                        *
*                                                                         *
*                     Edited by: Wolfgang R. Dick                         *
*                                                                         *
***************************************************************************

Contents
--------

1. Glenn A. Walsh: 60th Anniversary of Astronomical Observatory at
   Original Buhl Planetarium

2. F. Richard Stephenson et al.:
   The Inter-Union Commission for History of Astronomy

3. The International Interdisciplinary Scientific Association
   "Astroarchaeocaucasus"

4. Stuart Williams: Bringing British Local Astronomy History to
   First Light: An Invitation

5. Stuart Williams: Historia Coelestis - A New Astronomy History Forum

6. New Books

Acknowledgements

Imprint

...........................................................................
Item 1                                           ENHA No. 49, Dec. 19, 2001
...........................................................................

60th Anniversary of Astronomical Observatory at Original Buhl Planetarium
-------------------------------------------------------------------------

By Glenn A. Walsh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA


Monday, November 19, 2001, marked the 60th anniversary of the dedication of
"The People's Observatory" at the original Buhl Planetarium and Institute
of Popular Science in Allegheny Center on Pittsburgh's North Side.
Although dedicated to public use, The People's Observatory was constructed
to research observatory specifications, at a cost of $30,000 (1941
dollars).

This included the erection of the Observatory's fairly unique telescope,
the 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope produced by Chicago's
Gaertner Scientific Company. Unlike most telescopes, the Siderostat-type
telescope is mounted horizontally on a concrete base and does not move. A
moving mirror, behind the telescope, reflects the Sun, Moon, planets, and
stars into the telescope. This telescope continues to be the second
largest operable, Siderostat-type telescope in the world!

Well-known Astronomer Harlow Shapley, who was then Director of the Harvard
College Observatory, presented the keynote address at the dedication
ceremony. First Light, through the Siderostat-type telescope, came from
the ringed-planet Saturn.

The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science had actually been
dedicated and conveyed to the City of Pittsburgh, by the Buhl Foundation
(at that time, thirteenth largest foundation in the country!), on October
24, 1939. Prior to the Observatory dedication ceremony, Buhl's third floor
observatory had been used by the Amateur Astronomers' Association of
Pittsburgh (AAAP) for public observing with portable telescopes. Once the
Siderostat was in use, AAAP members supervised public observing sessions on
clear evenings - at that time, Buhl was open to the public every evening
(except New Year's Day) until 10:30 p.m.!

Along with the acquisition of Buhl's Zeiss II Planetarium Projector (now
the oldest operable, major planetarium projector in the world!), the Buhl
Planetarium also ordered a portable telescope from the Carl Zeiss Optical
Works in Jena, Germany in 1939, for use in the Observatory. To the dismay
of Buhl officials when opening the package from Germany, they received a
4-inch terrestrial refracting telescope (which uses additional optics to
show a right-side-up image); they had ordered an astronomical refractor
telescope (which has fewer lenses to degrade the image and shows an
upside-down image).

However, with the commencement of World War II on September 1, 1939, they
could not return the telescope to Germany and have an astronomical
refractor sent in its place. Hence, they had to make-do with a terrestrial
refractor. So, today the City of Pittsburgh owns a good Zeiss telescope
(now used at the Henry Buhl, Jr. Planetarium and Observatory of The
Carnegie Science Center) with a very interesting history!

In addition to evening use, the Siderostat projects a superb display of the
Sun onto a large projection screen, showing both sunspots and granulation
on the solar surface. Also, during daytime hours, the public has been able
to view the planets Mercury, Venus (showing phase), Mars, and Jupiter
(including cloud belts), as well as the Moon and stars down to third
magnitude, with the Siderostat.

Although primarily used for public observing, the Siderostat has been used
for some research, from time-to-time. During the 1980s, Buhl Planetarium
Lecturer Francis G. Graham (Founder of the American Lunar Society) took
photographs of the South Pole area of the Moon, as part of a cooperative
research project with other American astronomers. These photographs aided
the production of a better map of the South Pole area of the Moon, than
existed at that time.

Dedicated as "The People's Observatory" in 1941, this name fell out of use
after World War II. During the Cold War, the proliferation of Communist
states known as "People's Republics" tarnished the meaning of the word
"People's." Hence, "The People's Observatory" name was no longer used -
which is a shame considering that Buhl Planetarium used the word "People's"
first!

Another interesting historic anecdote: On the same evening of the
Observatory dedication, Buhl started a new Planetarium Sky Show and opened
a new gallery exhibit. The Sky Show, regarding Celestial Navigation, was
titled "Bombers by Starlight" (Buhl provided Celestial Navigation classes
to many military servicemen, during World War II). The new exhibit, in
Buhl's lower-level Octagon Gallery (which encircles the planetarium
projector pit, below the planetarium's "Theater of the Stars") was titled
"Can America Be Bombed?" This exhibit opened two and one-half weeks before
the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii!

Although Buhl Planetarium's People's Observatory has not been used since
1994, it is hoped that it may be reopened to the public within the next few
years.

More information on the history of The People's Observatory at Buhl
Planetarium can be learned on the Internet at the following address:
< http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com >.


Author's address: Glenn A. Walsh, e-mail: gawalsh@planetarium.cc

...........................................................................
Item 2                                           ENHA No. 49, Dec. 19, 2001
...........................................................................

The Inter-Union Commission for History of Astronomy
---------------------------------------------------

By F. Richard Stephenson, Alexander Gurshtein, Wayne Orchiston,
and Stephen J. Dick


We are very pleased to report the recent formation of the Inter-Union
Commission for History of Astronomy (ICHA) by the International
Astronomical Union (IAU) and the International Union of the History and
Philosophy of Science (IUHPS). The ICHA is an international body
representing the interests of all professional historians of astronomy
worldwide. It encourages research by members, facilitates communication
between researchers, organizes scientific meetings, undertakes
collaborative projects, and publishes a newsletter. The Union will also
prepare recommendations for the IAU and the IUHPS, and liaise with other
international organisations. 

Membership is open to the entire history of astronomy community. Those
who are IAU members become full members of the Commission, while those
who conduct their research through the IUHPS become associate members.
New members (of either kind) are elected to the ICHA at the triennial
General Assemblies of the IAU (the next one is in Sydney, Australia, in
July 2003). 

The ICHA is governed by an Organising Committee (OC) of ten. The
inaugural OC, which is based upon the current OC of IAU Commission 41,
comprises:

President:      Prof Richard Stephenson (UK: f.r.stephenson@durham.ac.uk)
Vice-President: Prof Alex Gurshtein (Russia: agurshtein@hotmail.com)
Secretary:      Dr Wayne Orchiston (Australia: wo@aaoepp.aao.gov.au)
Members:        Dr Steven Dick (USA: steve.dick@usno.navy.mil)
                Dr Wolfgang Dick (Germany: wdi@potsdam.ifag.de)
                Prof Rajesh Kochhar (India: rkochhar2000@yahoo.com)
                Dr Tsuko Nakamura (Japan: tsuko@cc.nao.ac.jp)
                Prof Il-Seong Nha (Korea: SLISNHA@chollian.net)
                Prof Woodruff Sullivan (USA: woody@astro.washington.edu)
                Prof Brian Warner (South Africa: Warner@physci.uct.ac.za)

A new OC will be elected at the Sydney General Assembly.

Production of ICHA Newsletters is the responsibility of an Editorial
Board elected by the ICHA OC. The following inaugural Editorial Board
has been formed: Dr Ileana Chinnici (Italy), Professor Alex Gurshtein
(Russia), Dr Wayne Orchiston (Australia) and Professor Richard
Stephenson. At this stage, our intention is to distribute two
newsletters per year, in June and December. 

The establishment of a genuine Inter-Union Commission is a major step
forward for the history of astronomy community. IAU Commission 41 was
founded in 1948, and for decades there was close co-operation between
colleagues from this Commission and those associated with the IUHPS.
During the 1970s an attempt was made to have C41 formally recognised as
a joint Commission of the two Unions, but this initiative was
unsuccessful. However, this did not stop colleagues from collaborating
on a number of important joint projects, including the Greenwich
Tercentenary Symposium in 1979, the General History of Astronomy volumes
(1982), and in more recent years (during the 1990s) the international
documentation of astronomical archives.

Even though its status was unchanged, in 1994 the idea somehow took hold
that C41 had become "A joint IAU-IUHPS Commission" (IAU Transactions
XXIIB, p. 207), and this notion was perpetuated through the 1994 ICSU
Yearbook (see p. 104). Once this fiction of a "Joint Commission" or
"Inter-Union Commission" was established, it was subsequently accepted
without question by those associated with the IAU and the
IUHPS - including the undersigned! 

It was only in late 2000 that the true situation was discovered, and the
quest for a genuine Inter-Union Commission became a priority of the C41
OC. This proved a daunting task, and one which involved many months of
research, consultation and negotiation, never-ending e-mail exchanges,
frequent international telephone calls, and even meetings in Paris.
However, all this is now behind us, and under the aegis of the ICHA
historians of astronomy worldwide can look forward to an era of
unprecedented harmonious co-operation and collaboration.


[Source: The ICHA Newsletter, No. 1, June 2001, p. 2-3; slightly abridged.]

...........................................................................
Item 3                                           ENHA No. 49, Dec. 19, 2001
...........................................................................

The International Interdisciplinary Scientific Association
----------------------------------------------------------
"Astroarchaeocaucasus"
----------------------


As it is known, Archaeoastronomy is a new interesting interdisciplinary
direction. Astronomic outlook of the Ancients, according to artifacts,
archaeological exhibits, ethnical materials is studied by astronomers,
physicists, mathematicians, archaeologists, historians, ethnographers and
specialists of other branches of science and culture. Uniformity and
similarity of astral representations of geometrical figures of ancient
artifacts points to the propinquity of the cultures of various peoples
of the world. The Caucasus is a good example of this. Here, on the
crossing of cultures and civilizations one can meet artifacts,
archaeological findings, ancient items with astronomical, cosmological,
proper geometrical symbols and signs having similar shape and ornaments,
scientific-philosophical content. Direct and symbolic representation of
heavenly bodies and their systems are found on ancient stone and
metallic articles, on the walls of cult buildings, plates, coins,
women's adornments, weapons and house utensils of ancient peoples of the
Caucasus. This very rich archaeoastronomic material is poorly studied.
This layer of culture needs thorough investigation and popularization.

On February 22, 2001 the new International Interdisciplinary Scientific
Association "Astroarchaeocaucasus" was founded by an initiative group
consisting of specialists of different fields of sciences and culture.
This international association gathers specialists of astronomy,
physics, mathematics, archaeology, history, ethnography,
culture-studying, information science, etc.

On June 29, 2001, the International Interdisciplinary Scientific
Association was registered by the Georgian State Court of Justice as an
international non-governmental organization.

The main objectives of the association's activities are:

1. Search and investigation of archaeoastronomic artifacts on the
territory of the Caucasian countries.

2. Identification, interpretation, cataloguization of archaeoastronomic
artifacts, both discovered recently or kept at the centres and bases of
archaeological expeditions.

3. Comparative analysis of the Caucasian archaeoastronomic artifacts and
the archaeoastronomic artifacts from other regions of the world.

4. Holding seminars and conferences on Caucasian archaeoastronomy.

5. Publication of bulletins, journals, books on archaeoastronomy of the
Caucasian region.

6. Cooperation with specialists of different countries of the world,
with international organizations, scientific centres, universities,
museums, and libraries.

At present we work on holding the first in Georgia and in the Caucasus 	
seminar on archaeoastronomy and on preparing the first edition of a
bulletin.

We invite you to become a member of our association. We will be glad to
see you among the specialists of different fields of sciences and culture
not only from all regions of the Caucasus, but from the whole world. We
candidly believe in cooperation with the scientific centres and other
associations of scientists.

The forms of cooperation can be of various kinds, flexible, beginning
with carrying out joint field investigations and ending with the
publications of joint scientific works, bulletins and books. You may
propose your individual form of cooperation as well. We are ready to
accept financial support, donations from patrons, businessmen, or
commercial companies. Our principle is objectivity in science, culture
without limitation, scientists without politics.

To become a member of our association or to cooperate with us by
individual programs, please contact us at the address given below.

President: Dr. Irakli Simonia
Secretary: George Chumburidze

Address: astroarchaeo@ti.net.ge


[Text provided by Irakli Simania.]

...........................................................................
Item 4                                           ENHA No. 49, Dec. 19, 2001
...........................................................................

Bringing British Local Astronomy History to First Light: An Invitation
----------------------------------------------------------------------

By Stuart Williams, Bloxwich, England


The story of the history of astronomy is a fascinating and often dramatic
one. The point and counterpoint of momentous discoveries, eccentric and
often adventurous characters, remarkable observatories and great telescopes
form as much a history of humanity as does the march of armies and the life
and death of kings. For the tale of the rise of science brings us to where
we are, and what we know about the universe, today. It puts our world in
context.

Yet, as with much history, the story of the 'ordinary' men and women, the
amateur scientists who work solely for the love of knowledge and the beauty
of the night sky, and that of the working scientists, the assistants, the
telescope makers, the observatory architects, the society organisers and
magazine publishers, the great lecturers and the popular authors, is all
too often lost in the stellar glare of the great men of our great science.

In the last twenty years there has been a tremendous rise in the popularity
of local history of the general kind, the history of towns and people where
we all live. It is the province of the amateur historian as well as the
professional and the academic, and much good research is done 'for the love
of it'. Amateur astronomers know well the kind of contribution they can
make to their favourite science. They can also make a similar - and in many
cases even more significant - contribution to the history of that science,
especially at the local level. The amateur especially, being 'on the scene'
as it were, can take up the cause of the local astronomer, the forgotten
observatory, the unknown observer, the obscure telescope maker or the
'companion stars' of the great names.

Such research is important, as much information is hidden in the mists of
time - and in the local and county record offices and the archives of
societies and museums across the nation. It is also fun, and if approached
in the right way can make a great contribution to the history of science -
but it needs time and effort to bring it to light. In cloudy weather, a
cosy record office is also more inviting than a wet and windy backyard, and
provides a respite from that bane of astronomers - the British weather!

I work as a local historian and archive photographer in England, and have a
great interest both in amateur astronomy and in the history of astronomy.
Earlier this year, therefore, I approached the eminent and popular
astronomy historian Dr. Allan Chapman of Wadham College, Oxford, with a
concept for a national survey of local astronomy history. The idea was to
encourage the formation of a network of both budding and experienced
astronomy historians, whether amateur or professional, to work on a
voluntary basis at the local level, surveying, photographing and
researching local astronomers, observatories, planetaria, telescope makers,
societies etc, of all periods.

Anyone who has read Dr. Chapman's inspiring book 'The Victorian Amateur
Astronomer', or heard him speak on the subject, will know the kind of
research of which I write. Dr. Chapman received my suggestion
enthusiastically, and further suggested the formation of a 'Society for the
History of Astronomy' to coordinate the work, its publication, its
dissemination and its preservation. While Dr. Chapman is unable to take
part in the day to day running of such an organisation due to other
commitments, he has nevertheless kindly offered his support. The Royal
Astronomical Society's Librarian, Mr. Peter D. Hingley, has also expressed
interest in housing at least a copy of any research at the RAS Library.

I know that there are people out there doing this kind of research in
isolation, or who are interested in taking it up but are not sure how.
Working together, we can bring the local history of astronomy to light, as
well as enjoying its national and international story. I am therefore
inviting anyone who might be interested in helping to organise and take
part in such a national survey of local astronomy history, and in helping
to form a new Society for the History of Astronomy, to contact me, with a
view to organising a meeting in the New Year. If there is sufficient
interest, then a start can be made. Interested parties should write,
stating their interests and research experience, and enclosing an s.a.e.,
to: Stuart Williams, F.R.A.S., 26 Matlock Road, Bloxwich, Walsall, WS3 3QD,
Great Britain. Or, by email, to: flamsteed@btinternet.com

...........................................................................
Item 5                                           ENHA No. 49, Dec. 19, 2001
...........................................................................

Historia Coelestis - A New Astronomy History Forum
--------------------------------------------------

By Stuart Williams, Bloxwich, England


'Historia Coelestis' is a new Yahoo Group set up as an electronic
discussion forum for all those interested in the study of the History of
Astronomy and of Star Lore, especially that of the ancient Greeks. It is a
place to exchange knowledge and ideas and to comment on both contemporary
and earlier work and publications, books etc in these specific subjects,
whether academic, popular or amateur, and local, national or international
in scope.

Historia Coelestis is open to both professional and amateur researchers or
those with a general interest in the subject, whether interested in the
'big names' in the history of astronomy or the lesser-known (or indeed,
unknown!) amateur and professional players at the local level.

'Historia Coelestis' at Yahoo!  Groups, a free, easy-to-use email group
service, was founded on August 19, 2001. Currently is has about 60
members. Historia Coelestis means (among other things) "The Story of the
Heavens" in Latin.


To learn more about this group or to subscribe, please visit

     http://groups.yahoo.com/group/historiacoelestis

To subscribe, you may also send a message to

     historiacoelestis-subscribe@yahoogroups.com


The list owner may be contacted at
    
     historiacoelestis-owner@yahoogroups.com

...........................................................................
Item 6                                           ENHA No. 49, Dec. 19, 2001
...........................................................................

New Books
---------

(From: "Elektronische Mitteilungen zur Astronomiegeschichte" Nr. 58,
7. September 2001, Item 5.)


Koch, Juergen W.: Der Hamburger Spritzenmeister und Mechaniker Johann Georg
Repsold (1770 - 1830), ein Beispiel fuer die Feinmechanik im norddeutschen
Raum zu Beginn des 19. Jahrhunderts. Hamburg, 2001. 396 p., ill., ISBN
3-8311-2016-1, Paperback DM 58.67, Euro 30.00.
[On the astronomer and instrument maker Johann Georg Repsold. In German.
Production: Libri Books on Demand. Available at www.amazon.de.]

Schaldach, Karlheinz: Roemische Sonnenuhren. Eine Einfuehrung in die antike
Gnomonik [Roman sundials. An introduction into ancient gnomonics. - In
German]. 3., korr. Aufl. [3d, corr. ed.] Frankfurt am Main: Verlag Harri
Deutsch, 2001. 123 p., 66 ill., tabs., 15 x 21 cm, ISBN 3-8171-1649-7,
Paperback DM 29.80

Wolfschmidt, Gudrun; Seemann, Agnes; Kuehl, Dieter: Hamburger Sternwarte -
Geschichte und Erhaltung [Hamburg Observatory - History and Preservation. -
In German.] Mit Beitraegen von [With contributions by] K.-J. Schramm, M.
Huensch und E. Bollweg. Hamburg, 2001. 60 p., numerous ill., 19 x 27 cm,
ISBN 3-8311-2159-1, Paperback DM 14.80 (Foerderverein Hamburger Sternwarte
e.V.; Bd. 1)
[Production: Libri Books on Demand. Available at www.amazon.de. Online
version: http://www.hs.uni-hamburg.de/german/persons/kuehl/brosch/buch.PDF]

...........................................................................

Acknowledgements
----------------

For information we thank all authors and in addition: 
Juergen Koch, Irakli Simonia, and Gudrun Wolfschmidt.

...........................................................................

Imprint
-------

Electronic Newsletter for the History of Astronomy (ENHA)

Published by the Working Group for the History of Astronomy in the
Astronomische Gesellschaft

Editor: Dr. Wolfgang R. Dick <wdi@potsdam.ifag.de>

All items without an author's name are editorial contributions.
Articles as well as information for the several sections are appreciated.

Subscription for ENHA is free. Readers and subscribers are asked for
occasional voluntary donations to the working group.

Copyright Statement:
The Electronic Newsletters for the History of Astronomy may be freely 
re-distributed in the case that no charge is imposed. Public offer in
WWW servers, BBS etc. is allowed after the editor has been informed. 
Non-commercial reproduction of single items in electronic or printed media
is possible only with the editor's permission.


Arbeitskreis Astronomiegeschichte / Working Group for the History of
Astronomy: 

URL: http://www.astro.uni-bonn.de/~pbrosche/astoria.html

Chairman: Prof. Dr. Peter Brosche, Observatorium Hoher List der
Sternwarte der Universitaet Bonn, D-54550 Daun, Germany, 
Tel.: +49(0)6592 2150, Fax: +49(0)6592 985140

Secretary: Dr. Wolfgang R. Dick, Otterkiez 14, D-14478 Potsdam,
Germany, e-mail: wdi@potsdam.ifag.de

Bank Acct. of the Working Group of the Astronomische Gesellschaft:
Acct # 333 410 41, Sparkasse Bochum (BLZ 430 500 01)
Contributions from foreign countries: acct # 162 18-203, Postgiroamt
Hamburg, BLZ 200 100 20
Please sign with: "Fuer Arbeitskreis Astronomiegeschichte" 

***************************************************************************