Pinned post

Born OTD 150 years ago was Dutch astronomer Willem de Sitter. He is of course best known* for his theoretical research on the orbits of the moons of Jupiter. Less known is that he actually developed photographic methods to get more detailed observations of this system.

Pinned post

Updated re-:

My name is Chaokang Tai, I am a historian of science currently working as postdoc at the University of Regensburg.

My current research focuses on the materiality of astrophotography in the early-mid 20C. I look at how photographic plates were exposed and transported and the labour involved in turning them into knowledge.

I am also working on a book about the astronomy of Anton Pannekoek and its relations to his Marxist philosophy, based on my dissertation.

One of my colleagues (located in Germany) would like to connect with fellow trans or non-binary people working in history of science (broadly construed) to share experiences and get some general advice. If you are interested in helping out, please contact me via DM.

*Of course I kid when I say De Sitter is best known for his Jupiter research. Today his name is mostly associated with his cosmological research. But it is noteworthy that his contemporaries at least considered both contributions on equally important.

Show thread

Taking the plates was the easy part, however. Measuring the plates took an experienced (human) computer over 1,5 hours. Much longer than visual observations, which could be more precise because they weren't limited by the size of the plates. This of course begs the question of why to use photographic observations at all. The answer to that, I do not know... yet. To be continued! (hopefully).

Show thread

When WO I prevented Greenwich from making further observations, , De Sitter began using the photographic refractor at the
Leiden Observatory to make photographic observations. Both the plates and the observational notebooks still exist, making it possible to retrace all the steps taken this process.

Show thread

The photographic plates seen here were taken between 1913 and 1919 at the Royal Obs in Cape (left) and Royal Obs Greenwich (right). Each shows six 10 second exposures of Jupiter and four of its moons. By observing photographically, it was possible to not just measure the orbital periods of the moons, but also their nodes and inclinations.

Show thread

Born OTD 150 years ago was Dutch astronomer Willem de Sitter. He is of course best known* for his theoretical research on the orbits of the moons of Jupiter. Less known is that he actually developed photographic methods to get more detailed observations of this system.

Updated re-:

My name is Chaokang Tai, I am a historian of science currently working as postdoc at the University of Regensburg.

My current research focuses on the materiality of astrophotography in the early-mid 20C. I look at how photographic plates were exposed and transported and the labour involved in turning them into knowledge.

I am also working on a book about the astronomy of Anton Pannekoek and its relations to his Marxist philosophy, based on my dissertation.

tusky and mastodon 

I've logged in via the website for the first time in ages and it seems that the Tusky ignores or obscures certain aspects of the mastodon experience that I never realized. Like placing pinned toots into a separate tab on the profile page and ignoring follow requests alltogether. Odd stuff.

In two weeks, I will start at the University of Regensburg as a postdoc in the DFG Project "Astronomy's Glass Archive"!

In my project, I will trace the entire process of producing astrophotographic knowledge. From how the photographic plates were planned and acquired, to how they were reduced and turned in to publishable data. My focus will be on the Dutch observatories, 1890-1960, who mainly used photographic plates imported from the Cape Colony and South Africa.

omarnasim.com/dfg-project

I finished my dissertation and received the physical copies \o/. I'll get to defend on 26 march.

Anton Pannekoek: Ways of Viewing Science and Society 

A while ago, when the world still seemed normal, I edited the collected volume "Anton Pannekoek: Ways of Viewing Science and Society". It is a collection of papers that investigate the history of astronomy, history of left marxism, art history, and possible connections between those through the life of Anton Pannekoek. Available open access on oapen.org/search?identifier=10

I briefly went to my office to collect some stuff so I can continue working home. But then I panicked about what I might need, so now I guess I can work from home for the next two to three years.

Milky Way in X-rays 

I was doing some research on the use X-rays in astronomy and I came across this wonderful image of the Milky Way in X-rays by ROSAT on @APoD that I just had to share (link with credits and explanation of what you see: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap000819.ht )

Hello, my name is Chaokang Tai and I am a historian of science.

In my current PhD project, I focus on astronomer and Marxist Anton Pannekoek (1873-1960) and investigate his astronomical research in relation to the rapidly changing field of astronomy in the early 20th century, the concurrent rise of astrophotography, and his own outspoken Marxist philosophy.

My main scholarly interests are the study of science, history in general, and astronomy.

Scholar Social

Scholar Social is a microblogging platform for researchers, grad students, librarians, archivists, undergrads, academically inclined high schoolers, educators of all levels, journal editors, research assistants, professors, administrators—anyone involved in academia who is willing to engage with others respectfully.