Scientific Instruments

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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Elisabeth Hevelius: Observational Astronomer

Elisabeth Hevelius Learning Leaflet

How does the Sextant symbolize the person who worked on the famed Hevelius star catalog and star atlas throughout its production, from observation to publication? 

Elisabeth Hevelius, wife of Johann Hevelius, was an astronomer in her own right. They worked together in the observatory of their Gdansk home to measure angular widths and distances with a great sextant, which required two observers at a time. The Sextant was among the new constellations they proposed in Uranographia (1690), the most detailed and influential celestial atlas of the 17th century. The Uranographia contains 54 beautiful double page engraved plates of 73 constellations, and 2 oversized folding plates of planispheres.


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Apiarium (English Translation)

Apiarium

In this first publication of observations made with a microscope, Cesi and Stelluti studied the anatomy of the bee. The text includes classical references to bees as well as new knowledge, integrated in a tabular outline. The title area shows four ancient coins depicting bees, and the crest of the Barberini family showing three busy bees. Because only a handful were printed, the type has bitten deeply into the paper. Oklahoma holds one of only four extant printed copies. This english translation is by Clara Sue Kidwell, formatted by Leah Vanderburg.


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Apiarium (English Translation - White Background)

Apiarium White Background

In this first publication of observations made with a microscope, Cesi and Stelluti studied the anatomy of the bee. The text includes classical references to bees as well as new knowledge, integrated in a tabular outline. The title area shows four ancient coins depicting bees, and the crest of the Barberini family showing three busy bees. Because only a handful were printed, the type has bitten deeply into the paper. Oklahoma holds one of only four extant printed copies. This english translation is by Clara Sue Kidwell, formatted by Leah Vanderburg.


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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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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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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 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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