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Extending the Gaze: The Temporality of Astronomical Paperwork

Nasim, Omar W. (2013) Extending the Gaze: The Temporality of Astronomical Paperwork. Science in Context, 26 (2). pp. 247-277. ISSN 0269-8897. (doi:10.1017/S0269889713000057) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided. (Contact us about this Publication)
Official URL
http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0269889713000057

Abstract

Argument Keeping records has always been an essential part of science. Aside from natural history and the laboratory sciences, no other observational science reflects this activity of record-keeping better than astronomy. Central to this activity, historically speaking, are tools so mundane and common that they are easily overlooked; namely, the notebook and the pencil. One obvious function of these tools is clearly a mnemonic one. However, there are other relevant functions of paperwork that often go unnoticed. Among these, I argue, is the strategic use made of different procedures of record keeping to prolong observational time with a target object. Highlighting this function will help us to appreciate the supporting role played by the notebook and the pencil to extend the observational time spent with a target object. With objects as delicate, faint, and mysterious as the nebulae, the procedures used to record their observations helped nineteenth-century observers overcome the temporal handicaps and limitations of large and clumsy telescopes, mounted in the altazimuth manner. To demonstrate the importance of paper and pencil, I will closely examine the observing books, the drawings found therein, and the telescopes of three nineteenth-century observers of the nebulae: Sir John F. W. Herschel, Lord Rosse, and William Lassell.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1017/S0269889713000057
Subjects: A General Works
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
D History General and Old World
Q Science
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of History > Centre for the History of the Sciences
Depositing User: Omar Nasim
Date Deposited: 25 May 2015 12:02 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 14:36 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/48630 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Nasim, Omar W.: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1985-0497
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