Open Educational Resources

Books as Instruments

Regiomontanus,  Calendarium (1476), volvelle

In this remarkable book, Regiomontanus predicted the positions of the Sun and Moon for 40 years. He designed a sundial to work independently of one︎'s latitude, and a volvelle, or circular dial, to locate the position and phase of the Moon according to date and time. Books became observing instruments in their own right.

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Johannes Kepler: Harmony of the Universe

Image of Kepler's Harmonic Law

In the work, Harmony of the Universe, Kepler integrated theoretical astronomy and music, ,showing that the motions of the planets employ the same numerical ratios as the most harmonious scales. Kepler's "harmonic law" still describes how planets and stars and satellites and galaxies revolve around one another in space.

Learn more about Kepler's "harmonic law" and its modern realizations in this learning leaflet.

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Zodiacal Motion: An Introduction

Johann Bayer, Uranometria

Against the background of the daily diurnal motion, the outer planets have an additional slow motion called their Zodiacal (or "direct") motion. Stars are fixed in relative position, but planets move slowly from west to east. Learn more about zodiacal motion in this learning leaflet.


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The Sundial: An Introduction

Bernardino Baldi, Nova gnomonices

A sundial consists of a gnomon, which casts the Sun's shadow, and a dial on which the shadow indicates the time. Learn more about sundials in this learning leaflet.


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The Planisphere: An Introduction

A. Klippel, Starry Heavens

The planisphere is a handy map of the night sky that works every night every season of the year. Learn more about how to use a planisphere in this learning leaflet.


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Diurnal Motion: An Introduction

Diurnal-Motion-LL.jpg

Each day and night, the fixed stars appear to rotate around the earth like a giant celestial sphere. Just like the Sun, they rise in the east and set in the west. The daily motion of the entire sky, rising from the east, setting in the west, rotating around the north pole, is called the diurnal motion. Learn more about diurnal motion in this learning leaflet.


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The Celestial Globe: An Introduction

Celestial-Globe-LL.jpg

The night sky looks like an upside-down bowl set on the horizon, but as it turns around during the night it is easy to think of it as a giant sphere. Think of the stars as bright points of light lying on the inside surface of a giant celestial sphere. This sphere rotates around us once a day. A model of the sky as a celestial globe explains the appearances of the sky with simplicity and elegance. Learn more about celestial globes with this learning leaflet.


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William Schickard: Introduction to the Astroscopium

Astroscopium-LL

William Schickard, a friend of Kepler’s, designed this “astroscopium,” a model intermediate between a planisphere and a celestial globe, to calculate the positions of the stars for any day and hour of the year. Use this learning leaflet to construct your own astroscopium.

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Constellation tubes | Six constellations

Six constellations

Identify six common constellations by their star patterns.

Urania's Mirror was a set of 32 constellation cards designed to aid in identifying the constellations by distinguishing between star patterns and constellation figures. This set includes six constellations, selected so that at least one of them is visible (in the northern hemisphere) at any time of the year. Holes punched in the positions of bright stars allow one to hold any card up to a light and compare the star pattern with the constellation figure.

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Kepler's Cosmic Dance suite

Jonathan A. Annis

For the Galileo’s World exhibition, Jonathan A. Annis, a graduate student in the OU School of Music, worked as co-curator of the Music of the Spheres gallery. In this role he composed a suite for harp, flute (doubling alto flute) and oboe (doubling English horn) entirely comprised of musical themes from Kepler’s Harmonices mundi.  Annis arranged the themes, but they derive from Kepler’s musical description of the harmonic law. In this piece, Kepler’s universe becomes a cosmic dance. Visitors to the Music of the Spheres gallery during the Galileo's World exhibition were able to listen to a short excerpt of the suite on an iPad kiosk.  (Background. Learning Leaflet.)  CC-by-sa-nc.


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Hoot the Owl

Hoot the Owl

A children’s book, The Story of How the Constellation ‘Hoot the Owl’ Began, was written and Illustrated by Anna Todd (2017), a 2nd grade student at Rose Witcher Elementary School, El Reno Public Schools, located in El Reno, Oklahoma. The book developed in collaboration with Stacey Stephenson and was inspired by the Galileo's World exhibition (backstory).


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Phases of Venus: Riccioli, New Almagest

Phases of Venus-Riccioli

The phases of Venus were an item of discussion in early modern Europe as scientists sought to determine whether it was evidence of the heliocentric system. Yet among the scientists it was anything but conclusive that this evidence proved the sun-centered universe. Learn more in this learning leaflet.


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Orion: Baba, Nobutake (1706)

Orion China Learning Leaflet

This work, written by a Kyoto physician, represents Asian astronomy in the generation following Adam Schall. Baba countered superstitious interpretations of solar eclipses, and used magnetic theory rather than yin and yang to explain the tides. Baba adopted the Tychonic model of cosmology. His book exemplifies the circulation of knowledge in East Asia and the interplay between Asian and European ideas.


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Six Cosmological Systems: Phases of Venus

Kircher-Cosmological Systems-Venus

It is often thought that Galileo's discovery of the phases of venus demonstrated the contested heliocentric model of the universe. However, such an understanding is overly simplistic of the early modern account of astronomy. Use this learning leaflet to learn more.


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Coma Berenices Learning Leaflet

Coma Berenices Learning Leaflet

Coma Berenices is the only one of the modern 88 official constellations named after a historical figure. It represents the hair of Berenice, Queen of Egypt (267 221 BCE), who reigned with Ptolemy III Euergetes. Learn more about this in this learning leaflet.


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Edward Jenner: The Mystery of the Milkmaids

Edward Jenner Learning Leaflet

Edward Jenner was a physician in the eighteenth and nineteenth century who studied the disease known as cowpox. Traditional medical knowledge demonstrated that milkmaids who contracted the disease cowpox became immune to smallpox. On account of this information Jenner surmised that pus from cowpox blisters (such as shown in the pictures) could be used to inoculate against smallpox. Learn more about Jenner, vaccines, and immunology in this learning leaflet.


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John P. Finley: Tornado Forecasting

John P. Finley Learning Leaflet

John P. Finley wrote the first book in English devoted to tornadoes. As a member of the US Army Signal Service, Finley's job was weather forecasting. By the 1880s Finley was widely recognized in the military as a tornado expert. Learn more about Finley's work as well as late nineteenth-century tornado forecasting in this learning leaflet.


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Della Porta: Natural Magic

Natural Magic LL

Giambattista della Porta was one of the most widely known European Renaissance magicians. In 1558, at the age of twenty three, the first edition of his book Natural Magic was printed. Due to its popularity and Della Porta's increased fame, he published an expanded second edition in 1589, increasing the original four books to twenty books. Learn more in this learning leaflet.


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Vincenzo Galilei: Discorso particolare intorno all'unisono

Vincenzo LL

Vincenzo Galilei was among the first music theorists to advocate for a new system of tuning based on performance, instead of the mathematical principles of music set fourth by Pythagoras. Pythagorean music theory bases pitch on the mathematical proportions of dividing a string. Vincenzo's primary problem with this system is that, although it is great for the mathematician and the music theorist, it is impractical for the performer. All music based on this particular system of tuning would inevitably sound out of tune and unpleasant. In this learning leaflet learn about the tuning systems in the late-Renaissance period.


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The Trial of Galileo

Galileo Trial LL

The story of Galileo’s trial in 1633 intertwines two crucial earlier episodes:

1. Galileo’s encounter with the Inquisition in 1616; and

2. Publication of Galileo’s Dialogue on the Two Chief Systems of the World in 1632. 

Learn more about them in this learning leaflet.


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Banned Books of the Scientific Revolution

Banned Books Learning Leaflet

The three most famous banned books of the Copernican revolution, listed in chronological order, are On the Revolutions of Copernicus (1543); a Commentary on the biblical book of Job by Zúñiga, a theologian in Salamanca; and a Letter in defense of Copernicus by the Carmelite monk Paolo Foscarini. Use this learning leaflet to learn more about them.


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Art and Astronomy Walking Tour

Art and Astronomy Walking Tour

“What was it like when art and astronomy were intertwined?”

Leonardo da Vinci, Albrecht Dürer, Lorenzo Sirigatti, Galileo... what joins them together?  Why is Galileo's Starry Messenger (1610) displayed alongside Giorgio Vasari's Lives of Eminent Painters and Sculptors

Galileo’s scientific discoveries occurred in the context of a specific artistic culture which possessed sophisticated mathematical techniques for drawing with linear perspective and handling light and shadow.

Do you know someone who received a telescope for Christmas? There's no better way to begin looking through a telescope than to ponder the way Galileo's professional training as an artist prepared him to make his astronomical discoveries.

In the Galileo’s World exhibition, four galleries took their point of departure from Galileo’s Starry Messenger (Sidereus nuncius, 1610):  
• Galileo and Perspective Drawing  
• Galileo and the Telescope   
• The Moon and the Telescope   
• The Sky at Night

These distinct but overlapping galleries were on physical display in different places and combinations during the course of the Galileo’s World exhibition, most notably at the National Weather Center and the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art.  Various books from these galleries are part of the current Rotating Display and the "The Sky Tonight reprise" gallery, including Galileo’s Starry Messenger itself.

Use this handout to aid you in you as you walk through the 2017 Rotating Display and The Sky at Night reprise gallery.


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