History of Astronomy - Year 2010

Paul Mueller is presently investigating whether some well-established tools and concepts from biblical textual criticism, which were used to discriminate reliable manuscript evidence from unreliable, were brought over into the natural sciences during the early modern period to discriminate reliable empirical evidence from unreliable. If this is true, it would help explain some puzzling aspects of early modern scientific practice. Also, there would be some interesting philosophical implications, first with respect to the ontological and epistemological status of individual observation-events, and second with respect to how such events could be aggregated to identify and designate regular natural phenomena.

January 16th saw the closing of the successful exhibition Astrum 2009 on the Italian astronomical heritage curated by Ileana Chinnici. This exhibit, described in last year’s annual report, was held at the Vatican Museums and promoted by INAF, Specola Vaticana and the Vatican Museums. The final official count of visitors was 11,000, a number which is considered noteworthy by the Vatican Museums, given the unusual kind of exhibition by their standards.