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Moon at Petworth
Hand-drawn map of the Moon

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Thomas Harriot’s drawings of the Moon, some of the first telescopic images for more than 400 years ago, are on display at Petworth House until 6 March 2016.

In 1609, cutting-edge astronomical technology was the telescope, first directed at the heavens famously by Galileo Galilei, and a little less famously by Thomas Harriot. While Harriot did not publish or publicize his work in the way that Galileo did, he carefully observed and drew maps of the Moon. Those maps are now on display at Petworth House as part of the National Trust’s “Remastered: Bosch to Bellotto” exhibition. There are many great works of art on show from the collection at Petworth, displayed in such a way that you can have a good close-up look at them. 

Harriot’s life and work have been somewhat overshadowed by Galileo’s stormy career, but he was a keen observer and scientist who speculated about what he saw and corresponded with astronomers across Europe. Allan Chapman wrote a short account of Harriot’s life and work in A&G in 2009, to celebrate the International Year of Astronomy – 400 years since telescopes became astronomers tools of choice. 

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Dr Sue Bowler

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Dr Sue Bowler

Dr Sue Bowler is Editor of A&G and A&G Forum.

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