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History

Raphael’s Handbook of Divination

Raphael had a particular fondness for publishing little handbooks full of tables used for divination. In his Raphael’s Book of Fate: Whereby all Questions may be Answered Respecting the Present and Future he offered handful of different methods of divining the future, most of which used a standard playing deck, some reckoning, and some cross-referencing […]

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History

Raphael’s Astro-Geomantic-Prophetic Practices

Robert Cross Smith, better known as Raphael, The Astrologer of the Nineteenth Century, was a rather prolific publisher. For a short time he published a journal with the autobiographical sounding title The Straggling Astrologer. After about six months of losing money, he ended that project. He followed it with a thick tome, The Astrologer of […]

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Press and Pop Culture

Astrology: Bugbear of Science

A recent survey of the “Conceptions of Science in Byzantium” opens with a general comment about the term “science”, and by extension the concept “science”. The author roots “science” in the culturally specific values of any given moment, values that are “constantly developing and changing.” These values determine what was and what was not, or […]

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Research

Filed under “Amusing Diversion”

Working through a manuscript I came across this folio with a large diagram of the zodiac in the center. What caught my attention was the drawing in the upper right corner. The scribe seems to have thrown his arms up in confusion (?), exasperation (?), or simply resignation. Either that, or he’s being held up […]

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HoS Advent Calendar 2016

Tannstetter’s Wall Calendar for 1513

From about 1505 until the late 1520s Georg Tannstetter produced astrological wall calendars like this one, often in both Latin and German. Most of his calendars were calculated for Vienna, where he was a master at the university at first in the liberal arts faculty and later in the medical faculty. His name and reputation […]

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History

Astrologer Ralph Kraum’s Copy of the Tuckerman Tables

In the early 1960s Bryant Tuckerman realized that the latest computer technology could be put to good use calculating historical planetary positions.[1] He published a two-volume ephemerides, providing tables of planetary positions from 601 BCE to 1649 CE. The “Tuckerman Tables” quickly became the standard reference for historians of astronomy. While more recently on-line resources […]

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Press and Pop Culture

Weekly Roundup: History of Science Videos & NSF Report

The History Channel Distorts History A number of the videos at the History Channel’s “Enlightenment” page deal with the history of science—on Isaac Newton, the Scientific Revolution, and a series Beyond the Big Ban: Copernicus, Beyond the Big Ban: Galileo and Beyond the Big Ban: Newton. Some gesture to interesting points, e.g., the interaction between […]

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Press and Pop Culture

Astrology and Relationships

Over the last few days the Smithsonian Magazine has been drawing attention to their recent blog post about astrology and relationships (see this search): “Good News: Astrology Doesn’t Impact the Success of Your Marriage.” Unfortunately, the post missed an opportunity to ask interesting questions about why the study attacked astrology and why it represented as […]

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Press and Pop Culture

Pseudo-science, Pseudo-academia, and Snake Oil

A roundup of articles related by the pejorative “pseudo:” Last month Mark Thomas attacked genetic ancestry companies, claiming that “there is usually little scientific substance to most of them and they are better thought of as genetic astrology.” Martin Richards and Vincent Macaulay responded by defending genetic ancestry science: It is unfair to compare genetic […]

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Literature & Scholarship

Johannes Schöner—Neither Medieval nor Modern

Johannes Schöner will never be a household name, but it’s nice to see him get some attention in John Hessler’s A Renaissance Globemaker’s Toolbox. Schöner attracted Hessler’s attention less for his own work than his compliations of material, which included the now famous 1507 Waldseemüller map of the world. Hessler seems to have combed through […]