January 2024 Featured Presentation

Santa Fe, NM January 17, 2024

This month’s featured presentation was delivered by William Donahue, Tutor Emeritus at St. John’s College here in Santa Fe. The title of the talk, “The James Webb Telescope of the Late 16th Century” refers to the truly unique and operational astronomical instrument at St. John’s, which replicates Tycho Brahe’s (1546-1601) equatorial armillary sphere. Brahe’s instrument revolutionized, by an order of magnitude, the precision of naked-eye observations in the pre-telescopic era, eventually enabling his last assistant Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) derive the laws of planetary motion.

Armillary Spheres, then and now

To view a detailed demonstration of this instrument, click on the following link to a video presentation by Prof. Donahue.
Video: https://www.sjc.edu/alumni-week/2020-alumni-week-highlights 

To read further on the conception and details of the project, you can head over to Nature Astronomy (Vol 4 February 2020) for a special free access to Prof. Donahue’s article:  https://rdcu.be/b2U6K .

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