Preservation

2020
Great Collections: Harvard's Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments and Its Founder, David P. Wheatland
Schechner, Sara J.Great Collections: Harvard's Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments and Its Founder, David P. Wheatland.” Journal of Antiques and Collectibles September (2020): 34-35. Publisher's Web PostingAbstract

This is a story of the impact a collector can have on creating one of the world’s most celebrated of specialized museums. The museum is Harvard University’s Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments and the man responsible is David P. Wheatland of Topsfield, Massachusetts.

The publisher's print version is attached as a PDF.  The web version of the essay is here.

Schechner_jantiquescoll_sept_2020_great_collections.pdf
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
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”.

 

2018
Schechner, Sara J.’Girl Hours’ at the Harvard College Observatory, review of The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars, by Dava Sobel.” Journal for the History of Astronomy 49, no. 1 (2018): 117-119. schechner_girl_hours_at_harvard_observatory_jha_2018.pdf
Schechner, Sara J.The Future of Astronomy's Archived Observations –An Open Discussion.” Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society 50, no. 7 (2018).
Schechner, Sara J., and John Davis. “The Puzzle of a ‘Reproduction’ Astrolabe in the Style of Jean Fusoris.” Bulletin of the Scientific Instrument Society, no. 139 (2018): 8-16. harvard_astrolabe_sis_bull_dec_2018-hi_res.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., 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.

2015
Schechner, Sara J.Instrumentation.” In A Companion to the History of American Science, edited by Georgina M. Montgomery and Mark A. Largent, 408-419. Chichester: Wiley Blackwell, 2015. Wiley Blackwell instrumentation_schechner_companion_to_history_of_am_sci.pdf
2012
Schechner, Sara J. “Preservation Challenges in North America: Recent Efforts by the American Astronomical Society.” C41/ICHA Science Meetings at the IAU XXVIII General Assembly. Beijing: International Astronomical Union, 2012. Abstract at SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)
Schechner, Sara J.David P. Wheatland (1898 - 1993): Scholar, Author, Avid Collector, Sine qua non for the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments.” The Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, Harvard University, 2012. Read essay online Wheatland memoir (PDF)
2011
Schechner, Sara J. “IAU Historical Instruments Working Group: Triennial Report (2009-2011).” Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage 14 (2011): 235-236.
Schechner, Sara J. “Division IX/Commission 41/Working Group Historical Instruments.” Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union 7, no. T28A (2011): 400-402. PDF
2007
Waywiser
Schechner, Sara J., Jean-Francois Gauvin, and others. “Waywiser.” Online database of the Harvard Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, 2007. Link to Waywiser Abstract
Waywiser, is the online database of the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, Harvard University. It was first developed by Jean-François Gauvin and Sara J. Schechner in 2007--2008, and has since been updated in format by Juan Andres Leon and other museum staff. As curator of the Collection, Schechner is the contributor of thousands of object entries and biographies, particularly in the areas of astronomy, microscopy, optics, time finding, horology, surveying, navigation, psychology, and radio. Work on the database is ongoing. The database is named after an ancient instrument for measuring distance, also called a hodometer.
Surveyor using a waywiser