In a little more than a month, Manchester (UK) will host the largest conference in the history of science, technology and medicine in recent years. The 24th International Congress of History of Science, Technology and Medicine will take place over a whole week (21-28 July) and already promises to be a memorable event. The Congress meets every four years around the globe (last time it was in Budapest, and before then in Beijing), so it is particularly exciting to see it happening in the UK (although, sadly, I won’t be able to attend it!). The organisers have set up a website with a wealth of information: along with the programme (which is searchable, of course), there is a terrific blog where participants at the Congress can showcase their own research. The piece below is one such example, and a particularly exciting one at that: it is written by Seb Falk, a PhD student at Cambridge University currently working on a unique medieval manuscript, The Equatorie of the Planetis. The text describes a ‘medieval computer’ (i.e. calculating device) that could be used to predict the position of the luminaries and the five known planets. Among other things such a device may have assisted the medieval astrologer when casting horoscopes.
This may sound like a rather shameless plug for my book (and, I confess it, in part it is!), but 2013 is proving a rich year for the history of astrology and astronomy, and I wanted to alert readers of this blog of three major studies that have appeared in print since January. These are (in alphabetical order):
- Monica Azzolini, The Duke and the Stars: Astrology and Politics in Renaissance Milan (Harvard University Press, 2013)
- Patrick Boner, Kepler’s Cosmological Synthesis: Astrology, Mechanism and the Soul (Brill, 2013)
- Mary Quinlan-McGrath, Influences: Art, Optics, and Astrology in the Italian Renaissance (Chicago University Press, 2013)
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.