The Sky and Ocean Reconnected: Linking the Histories of Observatories and Oceans

Lucy Dale's picture
November 16, 2021
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, Intellectual History, Maritime History / Studies, American History / Studies, East Asian History / Studies

Date and Time: 16 November 2021 | 1.00pm - 2.15pm

Astronomical observatories are often to be found far from the sea – yet their work has long been connected to the maritime world.

The Royal Observatory at Greenwich, for example, was established as part of the quest for developing a method to determine longitude at sea accurately.

Observatories also provided corrections for nautical tables and trained naval officers to observe with instruments. Over the past decade, historians have also demonstrated that observatories were never only devoted to astronomy. Meteorological, magnetic and seismological research also formed part of their work.

Furthermore, all of these areas of research, and others, were motivated by empire-building and competing national interests.

  • How can the history of observatory sciences be brought closer to the history of the sea?
  • What does the history of observatories tell us about maritime commerce and naval strategies of the past?
  • To what extent were the directors of observatories aware of their contributions to the maritime world?

Join Dr Daniel Belteki (Royal Museums Greenwich), Dr Steven J. Dick (former Chief Historian and Director of History Office, NASA) and Dr Fiona Williamson (Singapore Management University) for our free online seminar addressing these fascinating questions.

Using the Hong Kong Observatory and the United States Naval Observatory as examples, our panel of experts will explore the history of observatory sciences at two distinct locations before entering into a wider discussion.

Event details

This event is free and open to everyone, and will take place via Zoom. There is no need to book; please click on the button below shortly before 1.00pm on the day.

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Lucy Dale

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