Categories
Research

Burton on Ptolemy

Ptolemy’s authorship of the Ὁ Καρπός (the Centiloquium) has been rejected for the last 120 years or so, since Franz Boll argued concisely that it couldn’t be by Ptolemy.[1] Who originally composed the work and when, however, continues to exercise modern scholars. Medieval scholars, however, seem to have universally accepted that Ptolemy was the author. […]

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Press and Pop Culture

Tarot Redux

Perhaps it was just a coincidence. Perhaps it was fated. Either way, The New York Times published a sort of “how-to” article on Tarot on, of all days, April 1: “How to Get Started With Tarot.” As the subtitle suggests with its invocation of “introspection,” and the first paragraph confirms, they were not suggesting Tarot […]

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Collections

Persian Astrolabes on Auction

Bloomberg of all places reported last month on two Persian astrolabes coming up for auction at Sotheby’s. Why I don’t really know. The article itself is brief, really just a paragraph or two, and seems to be a string of staccato like factoids: before sextants there were astrolabes; Columbus might have taken one with him […]

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Press and Pop Culture

“Rigor” or …?

In “Taylor Swift Is Bringing Us Back to Nature,” an opinion piece it the NY Times by the conservation scientist Jeff Opperman, reflects on the ways that Taylor Swift’s lyrics are foregrounding nature. In her two recent albums, we are told, Swift uses “nature-themed words” seven times more frequently than artists from a sampling of […]

Categories
Exhibitions

Astrology at the Adler

The Adler Planetarium has posted a nice little slideshow on astrology: “Written in the Stars..” Each slide offers a bit of text and an image from something in the Alder’s collection — books, prints, and instruments. Unsurprisingly, one of my favorite is the slide of the astrolabe, a lovely instrument from Al-Andalus: Also amazing is the […]

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Press and Pop Culture

“Science Vs” — Celebrating Ignorance?

The podcast “Science Vs” promises to take “on fads, trends, and the opinionated mob to find out what’s fact, what’s not, and what’s somewhere in between.” It covers a range of predictable, conspiracy tinged and fad issues and pressing issues, e.g., episodes on ancient aliens,[1] snake oils and essential oils, and bigfoot, intermingle with episodes […]

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Academia Press and Pop Culture

Astrology Handwringing (again)

The BBC has joined the growing number of articles that try to explain away rational and intellectual interest in astrology: “The Anxieties and Apps Fuelling the Astrology Boom.” In this case, the author does a better job distinguishing astrology from the dross we see in newspapers.[1] But the basic assumption that animates this article is, […]

Categories
Academia Speaking

Ad Astra Podcast

For scholars working on the history of astrology, The Astra Project is the wonderful resource and community of experts. The two people who seem to be the most public faces of the project are Helena Avelar and Luís Campos Ribeiro. The project also hosts the ad Astra podcast, which interviews scholars working on a wide […]

Categories
Press and Pop Culture

Why Fear Astrology?

A recent “The Morning” Newsletter from the NY Times suggested seven podcasts about science for those “trying to learn more about the wonders of science.” Among other pressing wonders of science, these podcasts will let us know “whether there’s any scientific basis to astrology.” Why is the press, science popularizers, and many scholars, whether scientists […]

Categories
Research

Monks Using Astronomical Instruments

The manuscript Ambrosiana H 57 sup. includes two texts on the astrolabe, Philoponus’s as well as an anonymous one from perhaps the late 13th century (though this copy is dated 14th century). Along with these texts are a couple Ptolemaic works and Theon of Alexandria’s “Commentarium paruum in Ptolemaei canones.” The manuscript itself is lovely […]