On Sunday, August 11, 2013, our group of 25 Astronomy magazine readers took a new step in our exploration of English Astronomers by traveling from London to nearby Oxford, England, for a full day of adventure. The stark reality of the University of Oxford, the spectacular buildings of the institution — the Bodleian Library, Christ Church Cathedral, and more — were set against a literary backdrop seething with Harry Potter, Brideshead Revisited, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and many more creations that sprang forth from writers in Oxford or having used the city for settings.
Inside a portion of the Bodleian Library, Oxford University, Oxford, England, August 11, 2013. // Credit: David J. Eicher
After exploring the university’s most important and oldest buildings, we trekked on to the Museum of the History of Science. It was truly spectacular to wander through the oldest university in the English-speaking world. The museum contains a vast collection, in a relatively small space, of antique astronomical instruments, from astrolabes to sundials to telescopes to armillary spheres. Our travelers were thrilled at seeing William Herschel’s 7-foot telescope, a blackboard used by Albert Einstein for a 1931 lecture on relativity, the first large reflecting scope in history (made by James Short in 1742), and many other instruments. It was stunning.
We then traveled on to see Edmond Halley’s house, a building currently undergoing restoration, and then on to Christ Church, the university’s central and most distinguished college. The incredible hall and the cathedral in this school again confirmed the magnificence of astronomer and architect Christopher Wren’s contributions to England and to the world.
For all the photos of the English Astronomers tour, visit our Trips & Tours page
.Related blogs:English Astronomers: Touring LondonEnglish Astronomers: The Royal Observatory GreenwichEnglish Astronomers: The British Museum