Categories
Museums

The Byzantine Astrolabe

I can’t reconstruct how I came across this page, but now that I have I can’t let it go without some comment. A search for the pair of terms “Brescia astrolabe” or “Byzantine astrolabe” gives as the second result a link to a Wikimedia page, Byzantine astrolabe at Brescia, 5th century AD (reconstruction).jpg A quick […]

Categories
Exhibitions

Astrolabes & Navigation (redux, again)

A friend recently visited Philadelphia’s Please Touch Museum and came across the reference to the astrolabe in Muslim culture. Thinking of me, she snapped a photo and sent it to me: While I am delighted to see astrolabes in a children’s museum, I am disheartened to see a museum misrepresenting them. The myth that astrolabes […]

Categories
Press and Pop Culture

GoT Starbucks Cups and Astrolabes

Game of Thrones fans, and a disturbingly large part of the internet, erupted over an errant paper coffee cup, complete with plastic sippy lid that somehow found its way onto a table on set. For a few seconds during the feast celebrating the defeat of the Night King, on the table near Daenerys Stormborn of […]

Categories
Press and Pop Culture

Astrolabes and S•Town

On Thursday, February 16, at 5:36 PM I was standing in a faculty meeting when my phone vibrated. I fished it out of my pocket and looked at the screen. I had just received a voicemail and a text from the same number, a number I didn’t recognize. The text asked, simply: “Is this the […]

Categories
HoS Advent Calendar 2016

Nicephorus Gregoras’s “περὶ κατασκευῆς … ἀστρολάβου”

A nice drawing of the rete from Nicephorus Gregoras’s “περὶ κατασκευῆς καὶ γενέσεως ἀστρολάβου” (“On the Mathematical Origin and Construction of the Astrolabe”). This rete, like other diagrams in copies of Gregoras’s text, lacks stars and finer details. In the few copies I’ve seen that include the stars, the rete closely resembles the one surviving […]

Categories
HoS Advent Calendar 2016

Astrolabes on Iraqi Banknotes

In late 2003 the Coalition Provisional Authority governing Iraq introduced new banknotes and coins to replace the Hussein government’s currency. Celebrating the contributions Islamic scholars made to science, the new 250 dinar note was decorated with an engraving of an astrolabe on the obverse (and the Great Mosque of Samarra on the reverse). It wasn’t […]

Categories
History

Astrolabes or Mariner’s Astrolabe—A Primer

Celebrations are afoot in Ontario celebrating 400 years of Francophone presence in the region. An important part of those celebrations is Samuel de Champlain’s exploration of Ontario and his early encounter with First Nations cultures. Simcoe.com has a short post on an exhibit that includes one of Champlain’s navigational instruments: “Historic astrolabe on display in […]

Categories
Research

Nikephoros Gregoras and Byzantine Science

In March I am talking on the Byzantine polymath Nikephoros Gregoras and his efforts to establish his scientific authority. In “Empiricism, Prediction, and Instruments: The Creation of Expertise in 14th-Century Constantinople” I will examine the ways that Gregoras tried to distinguish his own expertise by grounding it in precise, empirical predictions and his command of […]