“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.
What objects would you include in your own scientific portrait?
Margaret Bryan was a schoolmistress for a boarding school for girls in London, in which she taught mathematics and science. She also published several popular scientific textbooks on astronomy, geography, and natural philosophy.
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.
How do art and travel benefit natural history?
Maria Merian (1647-1717), skilled in both art and natural history, studied the relationships between flowers and insects. She conducted field expeditions around the world, carried out research in gardens and museums, and produced detailed sketches and beautiful paintings, and even bred insects to aid in her entomological investigations.
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.
OERs in this set:
- Six Constellations
- Constellation tubes
- Urania's Mirror Learning Leaflet
Can you recognize Orion the Hunter?
Three bright stars in a row make up Orion's belt, within a rectangle of four bright stars representing his shoulders and feet. Since Orion's belt lies nearly upon the celestial equator, Orion is visible from every inhabited part of the globe. This OER introduces the astronomy and skylore of the constellation Orion the Hunter.
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.
Can you identify the five regular solids?
Throughout history the regular solids were studied with keen interest by astronomers, mathematicians, artists, architects and philosophers. The Pythagoreans proved that there are only five regular solids: the cube, triangle, octahedron, dodecahedron, and icosahedron.