Friday, June 28, 2013

Thomas Harriot's Moon

Between 1609 and 1610, Englishmen Thomas Harriot produced a number of drawings of the Moon, as well as what is probably the first map of its surface as well. The instrument he used was a simple Dutch "trunke", a telescope, of what we generally refer to as "Galilean" in design.
That is, of course, a misnomer; Galileo did not invent this optical design, he refined it. Others proceeeded him, Hans Lippershey in particular, with Sacharias Jansen and Jacob Metius also playing significant roles. 
Yet it was Harriot who aimed a telescope skyward and recorded the results.
It is interesting when we compare his map of the Moon with a modern image.

One of Harriot's Moon maps, Courtesy The Science Museum, Kensington
My image of the full Moon, early morning of the 23rd June, 2013 (the so-called Super Moon)

While not as artistic as Galileo's drawings, it is nevertheless remarkable, and proof of what a small telescope is capable of revealing to the humble viewer.

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