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astronomy

Photograph of an eclipse taken from Skylab in 1973. Credit: SSPL / NASA

On Monday 21 August 2017, a solar eclipse was visible across most of the United States for the first time in a century. To celebrate, curator Ali Boyle shared a short history of eclipses and a few favourite objects from our collection.

Recent visitors to the Science Museum may have spied the updated ‘Planet Science’ display in our Exploring Space gallery. Space Curator Doug Millard explores the story behind ‘Planet Science’ below. It’s hard to believe that we didn’t know what the surface of Mars looked like until 1964. That was the year NASA’s Mariner 4 spacecraft flew past the planet and returned the first images. And for many it was a big disappointment; no rivers or oceans; no vegetation; no indications […]

Today we’re hosting The Giants’ Shoulders, a monthly event providing a taster of some of the best history of science the blogosphere has offered this month. News of a meteor breaking up over Russia and the close approach of an asteroid inspired many bloggers including Rupert Baker at the Royal Society Repository, Darin Hayton, Lisa Smith at the Sloane Letters Blog and Greg Good at Geocosmohistory. On the Board of Longitude Project blog, Alexi Baker surveyed how attitudes to inanimate objects […]

UK astronomy enthusiasts are in for a serious case of Venus envy next week, as the planet transits the Sun. People in other parts of the world will have a good view, but while the 2004 transit was seen across the UK, this year’s – the last until 2117 – mostly happens after nightfall in these parts. Only the final stages will be visible at sunrise on 6 June, but that’s not stopping intrepid observers, who will be hoping that […]

The 29th of February, a Leap day, is coming up again. On this mysterious date 20- year- olds celebrate their fifth birthdays and so on. What has this got to do with this beautiful armilliary sphere , on display in The Science Museum, London?   Armiliary sphere by Sisson (credit: Science Museum) The sphere was made in 1731 for Prince Frederick , son of George II,  who died before his father, hence he never came to the throne. Both he and Princess Augusta were […]

Today, people around the world are celebrating Charles Dickens’s 200th birthday. Hopefully they’ll enjoy themselves more than Dickens himself did on a youthful birthday outing: ‘Slow torture’ … ‘it was awful’ … ‘very alarming’ … ‘I thought if this were a birthday it were better never to have been born’. Dickens looked back on this beleaguered birthday in an All the Year Round article of 1863. The subject of his ire was an astronomical lecture, a popular entertainment of the time. The young […]

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