Biennial History of Astronomy Workshop

Location: McKenna Hall

Diffusion of Astronomical Knowledge across and within Cultures

Click here for the conference website.


It is a well recognized phenomenon that astronomical ideas, theories, and data have historically crossed cultural and disciplinary boundaries. For the Eleventh Biennial History of Astronomy Workshop, we invite submissions that explore the theme of diffusion of astronomical knowledge. We understand “diffusion” to be a broad category: How did astronomical theories pass from on culture to another? What ideas expressed in one language or worldview were modified when passing into another system? How do subcultures within a single broader culture, such as professional and amateur within the same geographical region, interact? How do new discoveries make their way through a scientific community, and how do they eventually get rejected or accepted? How does knowledge pass from specialists to the broader popular culture? How do instruments play a role in transferring and shaping knowledge, especially as they pass between cultures? As in previous years, we expect that the theme can encompass a number of different time periods and geographical locations. Proposals that directly address the theme will receive preferential treatment.

Thursday Schedule: (see conference website for abstracts)

McKenna Hall
Poster Papers

“Orion: King and Judge of the Dead across Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia,” George Beke Latura, Independent Researcher

“Harmony of the Spheres: Pythagorean Grand Unifying Theory from Plato to Kepler,” George Beke Latura, Independent Researcher

“Two Visible Celestial Circles: Manilius and the Mysteries,” George Beke Latura, Independent Researcher

“The Astronomy Genealogy Project,” Joseph S. Tenn, Sonoma State University

8:30 - 8:45 am  Welcome

8:45 - 10:45 am 
Panel: Discovery and Classification in Astronomy: The Nature of Discovery and its Diffusion among Scientific Cultures. Organizer and Chair: Steven J. Dick, NASA

“Discovery and Classification in Astronomy,” Steven J. Dick, NASA

“William Huggins, Evolutionary Naturalism, and the Nature of the Nebulae,” Robert W. Smith, University of Alberta

“Breaking Cognitive Barriers from Meteors and Comets to Lunar Samples,” David H. DeVorkin, National Air and Space Museum

“Successfully Navigating Scientific Borderlands and Subcultures: Astronomer Walter Orr Roberts, The Sun-Earth Connection, and the National Center of Atmospheric Research,” Joseph P. Bassi, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University/Worldwide

10:45 - 11:15 am  Break

11:15 am - 12:45 pm 
Paper Session
Chair: John Cirilli, Independent Scholar

“Constructivism across Islamo-European Boundaries in the Fifteenth Century: The Philosophical Transmission of the Foundations of Qushji’s Astronomical Models,” Mustapha Kara-Ali, International Islamic University, Malaysia

“Sharing the Heavens: A Study of Medieval Scientific Translation and the Role of Language in the Advancement of Science,” Jonathan Klauke, Central Michigan University

“The Jesuit Astronomer Giovanni Battista Carbone as a Networker,” Luís Tirapicos, Universidade de Lisboa

12:45 - 1:00 pm  Group photo outside McKenna Hall

1:00 - 2:15 pm  Lunch

2:15 - 3:45 pm 
Paper Session
Chair: Dana Freiburger, University of Wisconsin

“Optical Diffusion: Amateur Telescope Making and the Transfer of Technical Knowledge in the International Context,” Gary L. Cameron, Iowa State University (abstract)

“The Reception of the American Amateur Telescope Making-Movement in Swedish Amateur Astronomy,” Johan Kärnfelt, University of Gothenburg (abstract)

“Variable Stars and Twentieth-Century Swedish Amateur Astronomy,” Gustav Holmberg, Lund University (abstract)

3:45 - 4:00 pm  Break

4:00 - 5:30 pm 
Paper Session
Chair: Stephen Case, University of Notre Dame

“William Herschel’s Legacy throughout the Nineteenth Century: A Complex Case of the Diffusion of Ideas,” Woodruff T. Sullivan, III, University of Washington

“The Melancholy Astronomer: Quetelet’s Romantic Years, 1819–1832,” Kevin Donnelly, Alvernia University

“William Whewell, the Plurality of Worlds, and the Modern Solar System,” Michael Crowe, University of Notre Dame