Historic Star Atlas Stories

Historic Star Atlases and their Stories

On Thursday this week, it was a delight and an honor, with Brent Purkaple, to kick off the OU Department of Astronomy’s year-long series of monthly lectures, “Postcards from the Universe.” Brent and I delivered a presentation on constellations and the interweaving of science and art, entitled Historic Star Atlas Stories. That link contains an outline with links to further information on each of the historical sources; a downloadable pdf of the slides; and a video (although the video quality does little justice to the more than 230 richly-illustrated slides).

I think it went well. All comments we received were positive, but any naysayers would not be the ones to give us feedback. The auditorium was virtually full. It was a wonderful cross-section of the community. Lots of high school students, but lots of adults and families with kids as well. And educators.

The Lunar Sooners, Eileen G.’s students, Nick Lazzaro, and some OKC Astro Club folks all put on a great show outside – beginning with taking us all out before the lecture to watch the International Space Station pass overhead at 6:53 pm. The consensus among the skywatch leaders seemed to be that about 50 people lingered for telescope viewing after the presentation. One of our goals in kicking off the Postcards series was to create in everyone the desire to participate in the post-lecture skywatches throughout the year.

More than 20 made it up to the Library Exhibit Hall as well — and lingered right up until closing at 10 pm.

The best part of the evening was the opportunity to present Anna Todd’s story, Hoot the Owl. Here’s the backstory. So far as I’m concerned, that’s the one of the best things that happened in 2017 related to our exhibits. To top it off, Stacey (the educator who made it possible) was present in person to hear the audience give a round of spontaneous applause after Hoot the Owl was read aloud.

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