Some old astronomy

A couple of interesting bits popped through the twitterverse today to do with astronomy from ‘old’ (as in recent, but before my short lifetime) astronomy.

The first is this article in New Scientist about some activities of a forensic astronomer, Donald Olson. His job is to look at old astronomical sightings from across the world (maybe there’s something mentioned in a poem or a painting shows something odd) and when one is found, look at contemporary accounts to try and identify what it is. The article discusses his past work as well as a new book he has out.

The second is this British Pathe newsreel from 1953 on the subject of Percy Wilkins and his efforts to map the surface of the Moon using an 18 inch telescope. The newsreel shows him making observations and altering his existing maps to account for new stuff he’d seen, or correct old observations. More astronomy related newsreels are here.


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