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desertstars

*****

Reged: 11/05/03

Loc: Tucson, AZ
Re: America’s forgotten astronomer new [Re: csa/montana]
      #4070701 - 09/24/10 03:43 PM

I've come across the name Benjamin Banneker several times in my studies of American history, but only in passing, when an author wanted to give anod to Africa-Americans making contributions to the early development of this nation. In none of these were his activities as an astronomer mentioned.

I'm pleased to see that the book you cited is in print ( and in a second edition - always a good sign). I believe I will track down a copy.

Thanks for helping fill a gap in my knowledge of history. Very well done, indeed.


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David E
Post Laureate
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Reged: 05/25/06

Loc: North Carolina
Re: America’s forgotten astronomer new [Re: desertstars]
      #4071067 - 09/24/10 06:13 PM

Thanks for reading Tom. I highly recommend that book for anyone interested in that time period of American history. The author goes in depth not only about Banneker but also has a lot to say about the people and events surrounding him. For example he devotes quite a bit of his book about how the District of Columbia was surveyed. He also has lots of illustrations and photos including telescopes and surveying equipment. On Amazon.com I also found many other new and used books including books about Banneker written for grade school children.

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Scott in NC
Mad Hatter
*****

Reged: 03/05/05

Loc: NC
Re: America’s forgotten astronomer new [Re: David E]
      #6004987 - 08/03/13 03:15 PM

David, this is a great article, which I'm embarrassed to say that I'm just stumbling upon nearly 3 years after you wrote it! I had heard of Benjamin Banneker before, and knew that he had done surveying work in the D.C. area in the early days of our nation's history, but had had no idea about his contributions to the field of astronomy until now. Thanks for sharing this info!

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StevieG
newbie


Reged: 07/21/11

Loc: Oldsmar, FL (Tampa Bay area)
Re: America’s forgotten astronomer new [Re: David E]
      #6006848 - 08/04/13 11:47 PM

David:

There is a house in Annapolis, Maryland where Benjamin Banneker is said to have lived. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and is preserved as a museum. Although I lived in Annapolis for 15 years and passed the house many times, I was unaware of Banneker's history as an astronomer and never went inside. Drat!
StevieG

Edited by StevieG (08/04/13 11:50 PM)


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David E
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 05/25/06

Loc: North Carolina
Re: America’s forgotten astronomer new [Re: StevieG]
      #6007058 - 08/05/13 05:20 AM

Thanks for that info. If I ever vacation in Maryland again I'll have to check that out.

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bunyon
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 10/23/10

Loc: Winston-Salem, NC
Re: America’s forgotten astronomer new [Re: David E]
      #6037344 - 08/20/13 09:39 PM

Thanks for bumping this up guys. And nice article David.

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starcrafter
super member
*****

Reged: 08/06/13

Loc: Scranton, PA
Re: America’s forgotten astronomer [Re: bunyon]
      #6074071 - 09/10/13 10:36 PM

I actually read a pretty good biography about him a couple of years ago -- his life actually seemed pretty tragic. When he was a young teenager, he took a trip to Baltimore to sell his family's tobacco crop. While en route, he was jumped by some slave bounty hunters. He had some paperwork with him, and he was spared, but his uncle got sold into slavery and was never seen by the family again.

His unbridled intellect made him something of a star amongst the abolitionist circles of the day. His clear talent made him something of a posterboy for what emancipated slaves might be able to become. Unfortunately for him, this same celebrity meant that people would grab guns and scurry around his house at night in order to intimidate and scare him.

As for his astronomical contributions, he truly seems like a genius well ahead of the times. He was one of the first people to theorize that stars might have planets of their own. His astromical predictions in his almanac were also considered to be some of the most acutely accurate predictions of the age.

And his notebooks, which contained the sum total of decades of observational notes and private musings, we lost forever once his house was burned down shortly after his death. The culprits were most likely rascists who didn't want his work to burnish the cause of African-American humanity.


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