Copernicus and Meteorology

Boldly Explore: Camille Flammarion (1888)

Colorized version of Camille Flammarion

Although many attribute this iconic image to the Middle Ages, it first appeared in a 19th century work of meteorology. So it's fitting that this book opened a Galileo's World exhibit at the National Weather Center on Copernicus and Meteorology.

Ever wish there were a colorized version available in a suitable resolution which educators and anyone could freely use? Susanna J. Magruder created the colorized version of Flammarion's woodcut shown above, which she is distributing with a CC-by license. Enjoy! You can put it on your website, a t-shirt, a coffee mug, or print out a copy on quality paper for your wall.

Two decades ago, in 1996, Susanna's father Kerry Magruder prepared a small website telling the story of the above woodcut and tracing its first appearance to Camille Flammarion in 1888. That old website remains available, largely unchanged (and frequently copied around the web): "This is not a medieval woodcut." It explores the image as visual rhetoric, concluding that its enduring appeal lies not so much in the flat Earth myth but as an icon of our common quest of discovery and exploration, the challenge of "boldly going where no one has gone before."

Black and white version:  Color your own.  

Related OER:  "Boldly Explore" Learning Leaflet.


Camille Flammarion, L'Atmosphere: Météorologie Populaire (Paris, 1888), p. 163. Colorized by Susanna J. Magruder. Courtesy History of Science Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries.  CC-by.

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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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Section 1: Meteorology

Section Introduction

From antiquity to the present, meteorology has always been a meeting place of many disciplines. Astronomy, optics, chemistry and the geosciences are just a few of the disciplines once pursued in close association with meteorology. Throughout history, meteorologists have adopted innovative methodologies to address emerging research problems that require multidisciplinary expertise. 

Boldly Explore: Camille Flammarion (1888)

Flammarion-1888 Learning Leaflet

Where will the quest of discovery lead you? 

Science is a quest of discovery, the challenge of boldly exploring where no one has gone before. That is the appeal and rhetorically durable theme which has made this woodcut so appealing.

Many have reprinted this illustration through the years, sometimes without knowing its original source. It first appeared in this popular work on meteorology. Flammarion was an astronomer and popular science writer who worked at the Juvissy Observatory in Paris. He was mistaken in his belief that scientists, writers and theologians in the Middle Ages and Renaissance regarded the Earth as flat.

Related OER:  Colorized version of Flammarion's image by Susanna Magruder.


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