We hope tonight* you will stay off tumblr long enough to catch the entirely new Camelopardalids meteor shower, which promises be a good one. Comet dust from 209P/LINEAR, sloughed off 200 years ago in its orbit around the sun is due to enter our atmosphere and provide us a remarkable show. That is provided you find somewhere with clear skies away from sources of light.

Sidereus Nuncius, sometimes called Starry Messenger, is a short work by Galileo Galilei in 1610–or almost 200 years before 209P/LINEAR laid the groundwork for tonight’s show. Above is the verso of Galileo’s drawings of the Pleiades star cluster, which makes an exceptional background for our shooting stars. The edition is available for view online in our Heralds of Science collection, a set of books donated to the Smithsonian Libraries by noted book collector and founder of the Burndy Library, Bern Dibner. Our Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology is named in his honor.

Make Galileo proud.

(*Just fyi: this was originally posted on May 23, 2014—the “tonight” we were referring to. Hoping this slight edit will help with any confusion and unnecessary time away from tumblr. The International Meteor Organization has a calendar of meteor showers, if you’re interested.)

More Than Just Black…

Adam Elsheimer’s The Flight Into Egypt is considered the first known painting to accurately depict the stars of the night sky and the Milky Way. Can you find Ursa Major?

Interestingly, this painting is said to date from around 1609, yet that means it predates Galileo’s first published telescope observations by a year (Galileo’s Sidereus Nuncius was published in 1610, although he made observations in 1609), and he likely couldn’t have seen all this with the naked eye. Any art or science historians know the full story? 

It’s a beautiful thing to see that science has been influencing art for so long.


Apocynthion - Redshift

Too fucking brilliant.

Na'ima has really long hair. (The secret is Julian has a bit of a crush on her; she’s just so dern smrt.)

She was going to be jabbing Julian in the chest, but my red pencil ran out of lead and 1) I have no idea where my thing of red lead is (not at work, definitely), 2) apparently other pencils are not trapped in the dimension in which I exist. Sux.