Like a piece of ice on a hot stove the poem must ride on its own melting. -- Robert Frost
And so we ride. I got some disappointing news from the Newberry late last week: ultimately, there weren't enough registrations for my seminar to make it a go this month and next.
Soft economy or not, this is library policy. But in practical terms the change in plan frees-up several hours a week for me to pursue other interests like researching and writing on subjects I enjoy. Sure, it's a let down because I know the seminar content is solid as well as inherently interesting, and there's no doubt I would have enjoyed successive Tuesday evenings discussing it, but hey, I'm a flexible guy--and I can take a punch. I'll recover quickly.
Besides, the Newberry is a 122-year-old institution. It isn't going anywhere. There are already opportunities ahead for other seminars, as well as lectures and workshops. And I won't be surprised at all if this one surfaces again at 60 W. Walton St. (and elsewhere), perhaps in shorter form.
One of the many benefits of my experience connected with the seminar-just-cancelled is discovering the large number of astronomy groups in and around Chicago. Not being an astronomer I was surprised to learn that the Chicago Astronomical Society, the Ryerson Astronomical Society, the Northwest Suburban Astronomers, the Naperville Astronomical Association, the Lake County Astronomical Society, and others sponsor so many events for skywatchers in this area. BTW, I'm looking forward to attending the June 19 meeting of the Lake County group. The topic that evening will be exoplanets, presented by Jim Kovac, a member of NASA's Solar System Ambassadors Program.
Adler Planetarium, Chicago, IL, by Fritz Geller-Grimm, 2000. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
While I'm on the subject, anyone reading this post within striking distance of Adler Planetarium should really plan a visit to see the museum's new major exhibit, Telescopes: Through the Looking Glass. This impressive installation, which opened May 22, commemorates the 400th anniversary of the telescope and the 2009 International Year of Astronomy. I toured the gallery last week and was struck by the exhibit's large number of historically important instruments, interactive displays, and storytelling features. A few personal highlights were seeing some of the earliest known telescopes on the planet close-up, viewing early books on the plurality of worlds, and actually looking through a fully-assembled 22-foot long telescope from 1675. No other museum in the world has an interactive display like it.
Another treat for people interested in telescopes is the exhibit catalog, also titled Telescopes: Through the Looking Glass, by Marvin Bolt. Make no mistake: this isn't some mundane museum publication; it's a cleverly designed, well-written, beautifully illustrated, and handsomely produced book of 236 pages.
As regular CB readers know, Bolt, who directs Adler's Webster Institute for the History of Astronomy, is one of the world's authorities on early telescopes. His text tells the story of these remarkable artifacts and something about their role in cosmology and popular culture in a clear engaging style. And speaking of clear, the former publisher in me smiles every time I look at it because parts of the catalog (e.g., sections of the front cover, title page, and table of contents) are intentionally blurred. The book design is by Chicago-based Studio Blue.
Kudos for jobs well done!
Next stop: tbd
Banner bus photo credit: Dorothy Delina Porter.