History of astronomy

Submitted
Schechner, Sara J., and Susanna Cecilia Berger. “Observations on Niccolò Tornioli’s The Astronomers” (Submitted).Abstract
We analyze the iconography of the painting, paying special attention to the scientific instruments, diagrams, celestial phenomena, and individuals, in order to show the limitiations of an iconographic approach as well as to offer new interpretations.  We suggest that the painting highlights the importance of visual representations and guided conversation in scientific observational practices in early modern Europe,
2020
Sundials
Schechner, Sara J., Meredith Stepien, and Pedro Raposo. “Sundials.” Adler Astronomy Live. Adler Planetarium, Chicago, 2020. Publisher's VersionAbstract

cite as: Sara J. Schechner, "Sundials," interview with Meredith Stepien and Pedro Raposo, Adler Astronomy Live, streamed live on October 8, 2020, YouTube video, 55:50, https://youtu.be/Xfo9ifTixIg.

Hello stargazers! Welcome to Adler Astronomy Live: Sundials! ☀️

The Adler Planetarium has the best and most comprehensive collection of sundials in North America. Sundials played a central role in shaping people’s sense of time, and show how the latter has been influenced by their culture, politics, religion, labor, society, and geography throughout the ages. ⏰ Join us for a conversation with Dr. Sara J. Schechner, author of Time of Our Lives: Sundials of the Adler Planetarium, on some of the most spectacular sundials in the Adler’s collections and their stories.

Watch the YouTube video here.

Historic Challenges for Harvard Women of Science with Sara Schechner, David P. Wheatland Curator of the Harvard Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments
Schechner, Sara J., and Jennifer Berglund. “Historic Challenges for Harvard Women of Science with Sara Schechner, David P. Wheatland Curator of the Harvard Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments.” HMSC Connects! Podcast. Harvard Museums of Science & Culture, 2020. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Cite as: Sara J. Schechner, “Historic Challenges for Harvard Women of Science,”  interview with Jennifer Berglund, HMSC Connects! Podcast, Harvard Museums of Science & Culture, podcast audio, 26:58, August 12, 2020, https://www.podbean.com/ew/pb-pstaj-e6c60d.

Welcome to HMSC Connects! where Jennifer Berglund goes behind the scenes of four Harvard museums to explore the connections between us, our big, beautiful world, and even what lies beyond.

For our second episode celebrating women's suffrage this month, Jennifer is speaking with Sara Schechner, curator of the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments.  Sara is a historian of science, specializing in material culture and the history of astronomy. She's also an expert in the history of women in science.

Listen to podcast here.

IAU Commission C3 Newsletter
Schechner, Sara J., ed.IAU Commission C3 Newsletter,” 2020, vol. 2020, no. 2, 57pp.Abstract
Newsletter of the International Astronomical Union Commission C3 (History of Astronomy), edited and published semiannually at the Summer and Winter Solstices by Sara Schechner, Secretary of IAU Commission C3. 
iau-c3-newsletter-2020-2.pdf
IAU Commission C3 Newsletter
Schechner, Sara J., ed.IAU Commission C3 Newsletter,” 2020, vol. 2020, no. 1, 57pp.Abstract
Newsletter of the International Astronomical Union Commission C3 (History of Astronomy), edited and published semiannually at the Summer and Winter Solstices by Sara Schechner, Secretary of IAU Commission C3. 
iau-c3-newsletter-2020-1.pdf
2019
Schechner, Sara J."Telling Time in Tokugawa Japan." Review of Making Time: Astronomical Measurement in Tokugawa Japan by Yulia Frumer.Physics Today 72, no. 6 (2019): 57-58. Publisher's Version phyics_today_72.6_2019_review_of_frumer.pdf
Schechner, Sara J.Introduction.” In From Celestial to Terrestrial Timekeeping: Clock Making in the Bond Family, by Donald Saff, xii-xiii. London: Antiquarian Horological Society, 2019.
Time of Our Lives: Sundials of the Adler Planetarium.
Schechner, Sara J. Time of Our Lives: Sundials of the Adler Planetarium.. Chicago: Adler Planetarium, 2019. Publisher's VersionAbstract

 

Time of Our Lives

Sundials of the Adler Planetarium

Sara J. Schechner

 

Published by the Adler Planetarium, with the support of the North American Sundial Society

 

The Adler Planetarium of Chicago has the best and most comprehensive collection of sundials and time-finding instruments in North America. Now many of these objects can be yours to explore. This volume encompasses a dazzling array of sundials, 268 in all, that date from the 15th to 20th centuries.

What makes this catalogue special is that it is written to engage non-specialists approaching sundials for the first time. Although the organizational logic is astronomical and mathematical, the primary Interpretive essays set the sundials into cultural and social context.

The catalogue divides sundials into classes according to the element of the Sun’s apparent motion that they track (e.g. hour-angle, altitude, azimuth, or a combination) and the orientation of the surfaces on which the hour lines are mathematically drawn. Within each chapter, the instruments are organized chronologically and by workshop, thereby giving readers insight into that type’s development over time and differences among makers. Technical object descriptions are supplemented by tables of divisions, gazetteers, saints’ days, weather forecasts, and in the case of polyhedral dials, the dial types, orientations, and hour systems drawn on every face. The tables offer a snapshot of the precision to which the maker aimed and the sundial’s complexity. Color photographs of each sundial show its overall appearance and details.

Chapter introductions go beyond mathematical descriptions of how each type works. Drawing upon research findings presented here for the first time, the essays offer insights into early production techniques, fads and fashions, social hierarchy among users, the impact of church and civil authorities, and the history of the sundial classes.

Throughout the ages, people’s sense of time has been influenced by their culture, politics, religion, labor, society, and geography. This catalogue offers concrete evidence, for every sundial in it embodies the time-related needs and values of its maker and users.

The catalogue includes a taxonomy of compass needles, glossary, bibliography, and index. It is hardcover, 488 pages, 9.75” x 11”.

 

2017
Schechner, Sara J.These Are Not Your Mother’s Sundials: Or, Time and Astronomy’s Authority.” In The Science of Time 2016: Time in Astronomy & Society, Past, Present and Future, edited by Pavol Gabor Catherine Hohenkerk Kenneth Seidelmann and Elisa Arias, Ludwig Combrinck, 49-73. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing, 2017. schechner_978-3-319-59909-0_8.pdf
2016
Schechner, Sara J., and David Sliski. “Preservation Recommendations for Historic Photographic Jackets.” Journal for the History of Astronomy 47, no. 1 (2016): Supplement. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Appendix III to “The Scientific and Historical Value of Annotations on Astronomical Photographic Plates”

Schechner, Sara J., and David Sliski. “Preservation Recommendations for Historic Photographic Jackets.” Journal for the History of Astronomy 47, no. 1 (2016): supplement. Publisher's Version
Schechner, Sara J., and David Sliski. “The Scientific and Historical Value of Annotations on Astronomical Photographic Plates.” arXiv (2016). Publisher's VersionAbstract

The Scientific and Historical Value of Annotations on Astronomical Photographic Plates

Authors: Sara J. Schechner, David H. Sliski
Comments: 46 pages, 9 figures, Published in the Journal for the History of Astronomy, February 2016

arXiv:1602.03475v2 [physics.hist-ph]
DOI: 10.1177/0021828615624094
License: http://arxiv.org/licenses/nonexclusive-distrib/1.0/
Subj-class: History and Philosophy of Physics (physics.hist-ph)

Schechner, Sara J.European Pocket Sundials for Colonial Use in American Territories.” In How Scientific Instruments Have Changed Hands, Scientific Instruments and Collections, 5:119-170. Leiden: Brill, 2016. schechner_07_how_instruments_have_changed_hands.pdf schechner_07_color_plates.pdf
Schechner, Sara J., and David Sliski. “The Scientific and Historical Value of Annotations on Astronomical Photographic Plates.” Journal for the History of Astronomy 47, no. 1 (2016): 3-29. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The application of photography to astronomy was a critical step in the development of astrophysics at the end of the nineteenth century. Using custom-built photographic telescopes and objective prisms, astronomers took images of the sky on glass plates during a 100-year period from many observing stations around the globe. After each plate was developed, astronomers and their assistants studied and annotated the plates as they made astrometric, photometric and spectroscopic measurements, counted galaxies, observed stellar variability, tracked meteors, and calculated the ephemerides of asteroids and comets. In this paper, the authors assess the importance of the plate annotations for future scientific, historical, and educational programs. Unfortunately, many of these interesting annotations are now being erased when grime is removed from the plates before they are digitized to make the photometric data available for time-domain astrophysics. To see what professional astronomers and historians think about this situation, the authors conducted a survey. This paper captures the lively discussion on the pros and cons of the removal of plate markings, how to best to document them if they must be cleaned off, and what to do with plates whose annotations are deemed too valuable to be erased. Three appendices to the paper offer professional guidance on the best practices for handling and cleaning the plates, photographing any annotations, and rehousing them.

Three supplementary appendices are available online here.

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