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Harvard Science Center has a museum of scientific instruments. Free, but mostly only open during work hours. http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~hsdept/chsi-exhibitions.html I went yesterday, spent maybe an hour just looking carefully at the first wall of astrolabes and sundials and stuff, and an orrery, then skimmed other stuff. Also hopped upstairs to the second room on Time.

Earth in the orrery seems to have two moons; no one on the spot knew why, but the online catalog says the small one is indicating the lunar node.

I also got told of the Semitic Museum, http://www.semiticmuseum.fas.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do which is also free but open 4 hours on the weekend. First floor has stuff on early Hebrews, including a model house, second has Egyptian and Hurrian stuff, third Cyptiot; I spent an hour+ combing the Cypriot floor.

Neither museum is all that big, if you tend to just walk through it wouldn't take long. If you read all the cards and look closely at stuff and compare pots to each other, it'll take a long time.

Harvard has other museums too of course, but those charge. :p

ETA: Forgot an important bit! In skimming the other parts of the instrument museum, I saw stuff on how photography brought women into astronomy, as observers poring over photos, and otherwise being 'computers'. Staying up all night with a man wasn't kosher, but women were thought to be patient, persistent, and conscientious. And one of them, Annie Jump Cannon, created the stellar classification system in use today.

Then that evening, by sheer coincidence, someone linked to an article on just that: http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/history/2013/09/the-women-who-mapped-the-universe-and-still-couldnt-get-any-respect/

Might as well add other stuff I learned: 'clockwise' comes from the direction shadows move on northern hemisphere sundials. There's lots of wacky sundial designs, including bowls and cubes. Galen was personal physician to Marcus Aurelius. Clay tablets are thicker than I ever imagined. There's an ancient painting of a sailor pooping on fish on the Cypriot floor. Cyprus was really blessed, producing its own wheat, oil, wine, and lots of lumber, as well as tons of copper. For a long time they didn't settle the port/coastal areas, dwelling inland instead. Old copper swords look very rough-edged, I don't know if that's manufacture or corrosion.

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petra_quince
Sep. 27th, 2013 04:42 am (UTC)
Fascinating! I am going to have to check out the museums some time.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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Damien Sullivan
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