So, here we are. A new blog. About what, you may ask? About the history of the science of the stars, namely astronomy and astrology as they were understood and practiced in early modern times. The idea for this blog comes from my own research interests and my move to Edinburgh in 2007. Edinburgh has, you see, one of the most remarkable libraries for the study of the history of astronomy. What is even more remarkable is that very few people know that. This collection was donated to the Scottish Nation in 1888 and has been housed in the Royal Observatory on Blackford Hill ever since. If you want to know more about it, you can go to our dedicated page on the Crawford Collection. You will find out why it carries the name Crawford, how the collection came to be donated to the Observatory, and a little bit about its generous donor. The discovery of this amazing resource prompted me to organise a series of events to better publicise it, in the hope that this would lead to a more active exploration of its resources by historians of science like myself. The result is the Crawford Project, which comprises a series of events that have the stated aim of showcasing the collection and making the history of astronomy (and astrology) a regular feature of Edinburgh’s intellectual life. You will learn more about the events that took place since 2008 in a related page. Here you will find details of the international workshop that took place in 2008 and the series of lectures that have been organised since. Each annual lecture is delivered by a distinguished historian of science: the topic varies from year to year but it is related to books (and authors) housed in the Crawford Collection. Each lecture is accompanied by a beautiful poster and has been recorded. So, even if you missed the lecture or you do not live in Edinburgh (and many of you will not!) you can listen to its podcast.
This blog, however, it is not just about the Crawford Collection and the annual Crawford Lecture. It is about ‘the science of the stars’ and its fascinating history. The blog’s primary aim is thus to discuss all matters related to the study of the science of the stars (a term that aptly encompasses the disciplines of astronomy and astrology as they were defined in pre-modern times) as they emerge through historical investigation. As such, it hopes to become a venue for lively intellectual exchange among historians of astronomy, astrology and related disciplines. A number of colleagues and friends have kindly agreed to contribute to it: you will find a little more about them in this page. The bloggers who contribute to this WordPress page will write about their own research, new and exciting publications, and current events that may be profitably connected to historical ones and would be better understood by looking back in time. I hope you will enjoy their posts!
A little note of warning: This is not a blog about modern astrology and contemporary astrological practice (or how contemporary astrological practice can be better informed by studying its historical antecedents). While we respect the profession as a whole and many of us have interacted very profitably with practising astrologers over the years, this is primarily a place and space of historical investigation (and as such it is not interested in modern applications).