{ subscribe_url:'//blogs.loc.gov/share/sites/library-of-congress-blogs/inside_adams.php' }

Celestial Charts: Exploring and Observing Space at the Geography and Map Division

Today’s post is from Carlyn Osborn, a Library Technician in the Geography and Map Division. Carlyn has a B.A. in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology from Johns Hopkins University and is currently a graduate student at the University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies.

Tobias Conrad Lotter. 1772. Planisphaerium coeleste : secundum restitutionem Hevelianam et Hallejanam Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

Tobias Conrad Lotter. 1772. Planisphaerium coeleste : secundum restitutionem Hevelianam et Hallejanam Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

With high-resolution images of Pluto and the search for Earth-like exoplanets making national headlines, it is clear that space and space exploration still capture our collective attention. While the tools we have used to gather and write down our observations may have changed, our curiosity has not. Charts and globes drawn from studying the sky throughout history can be found right here at The Library of Congress.

A celestial chart is, put simply, a map of the night sky. The Library’s Geography and Map Division has approximately 600 of these, in addition to numerous globes depicting the night sky. Our celestial collection consists of exceptionally rare charts bound in 17th century atlases, colorful newspaper graphics from the Space Race, detailed Russian maps tracking the paths of solar eclipses, explanatory diagrams from German schoolbooks, and countless other depictions of the solar system and universe. You can view examples of these astronomical holdings in the Heavens section of the “World Treasures” online exhibit. In addition, you might also be interested in exploring the ”Finding our Place in the Cosmos: From Galileo to Sagan and Beyond” online exhibit which presents examples of the changing models of the universe through time.

[unknown author]. 1777. Kujang chʻŏnsang yŏlchʻa punya chido (Old Sky Chart Showing Rank and Distribution of Stars). Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

[unknown author]. 1777. Kujang chʻŏnsang yŏlchʻa punya chido (Old Sky Chart Showing Rank and Distribution of Stars). Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

Approximately half of the Geography and Map Division’s celestial charts are uncatalogued. Even fewer have been digitally scanned. So just because it’s not online, doesn’t mean we don’t have it! All of our acquisitions made since 1970 have corresponding digital catalog records, however, the rest of our collections are organized by a unique classification system devised for our Division. The Library’s geography/maps specialists are here to help should you have questions about the Library’s holdings.

The Geography and Map Division’s celestial charts collection greatly compliments the astronomy collections located in other parts of the Library such as Rare Books & Special Collections, African and Middle Eastern, Asian, and Prints & Photographs collections. In addition, the Library’s Science Reference Service can assist researchers with navigating the Library’s amazing astronomy collections.

Read More About It. Below is a selection of books about the history of astronomy and celestial observation that you can find at the Library of Congress:

You also might find the following science research guides helpful

  • Archaeoastronomy Guide– This guide provides a starting point for those who wish to study  prehistoric, ancient, and traditional astronomies within their cultural context.
  • Teaching Astronomy Guide– This guide features a selection of resources on teaching and learning about astronomy for educators and enthusiasts.
    Adam and Charles Black. 1885. The Solar System. Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

    Adam and Charles Black. 1885. The Solar System. Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

     

 

Upcoming Book Talk on the Mediterranean Diet, May 13

Author, chef, and television personality Amy Riolo has written the following guest post about the history and benefits Mediterranean cuisine for her upcoming book talk on May 13 – “The Mediterranean Diet: Delicious Food Prescriptions for Transforming Illness.” Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food (Hippocrates) Almost daily we are learning how […]

Upcoming Book Talk on May 14: Behind the Gas Mask

The following post is authored by Mary Jane Cavallo, an  Automation Operations Coordinator for the Science, Technology and Business Division. Did you know that during World War I America suffered more casualties from poison gas than any other nation involved in the war? In his new book, Behind the Gas Mask: The U.S. Chemical Warfare […]

Battling with the Scale: A Look Back at Weight Loss Trends in the U.S.

As we enter this new year, many of us have made resolutions to spend more time with family, to volunteer, perhaps to stop smoking, and of course, to get fit and lose weight. The widespread desire to become healthier and shed those extra pounds is met with a plethora of weight loss products, programs, and […]

Arachnophilia: Celebrating Spiders on Halloween

Spiders have been spinning their webs across the planet for hundreds of millions of years.  Without a doubt, we have forged a special relationship with these eight-legged wonders. One can find pictographs of spiders on the walls of the ancient site of Göbekli Tepe in Turkey, as well as references to spiders in mythology, creation […]

Early American Beer

Today’s post is written by science librarian and culinary specialist Alison Kelly. She has provided her expertise in a number of Inside Adams blog posts related to food history and cooking. Alison is also a gardener and a horticulture subject specialist- she wrote  a post about Women in Horticulture that highlights a selection of books […]

Celebrating Librarian Extraordinaire Ruth S. Freitag

In celebration of  Women’s History Month the American Library Association’s  Feminist Task Force  invited submissions to highlight valued women in libraries.  Library of Congress Science Reference Section Head Constance Carter has contributed this article about her mentor and inspiration Ruth S. Freitag. Ruth S. Freitag is a librarian who should be celebrated during Women’s History Month.   Admired by grateful […]

‘Tis the Season for Squash

Once Autumn hits the Northern Hemisphere we begin to see a plethora of gourds, such as pumpkins and squash, popping up all around our towns and homes. We use them as decorations to signify the season, as well consume them in pies, casseroles, and even beverages! Squash and pumpkins are angiosperms (flowering plants) and part […]

Mendel to DNA Structure to Translational Medicine

The following is a guest blog post by Science Reference and Research Specialist Dr. Tomoko Steen. This week (November 7-8, 2013) the Library of Congress will celebrate the life of Gregor Johann Mendel, the discovery of DNA structure, and the discoveries in biology that are critically necessary for the advancement of clinical and translational medicine. Gregor […]

What’s Happening in Science Education

Have you ever wondered, “is it really possible to fry an egg on the sidewalk if it is hot enough?” or “why do pigeons bob their heads when they walk?” Answers to these and many other science questions can be found on the Library of Congress website Everyday Mysteries: Fun Science Facts from the Science […]