Image: Entrance to the Schola astronomiae, Schools Quadrangle (1613-24), Oxford. Photo: Duncan Hull, 11 Sept. 2012. Licence: CC BY 2.0. From flickr.


The history of early modern astronomy is particularly well served by online educational resources.

A pioneering example is The Starry Messenger, a series well-organised discussions of instruments, themes and personalities, created in 1999-2000 by Whipple Museum of the History of Science and the Department of History and Philosophy of Science in Cambridge.

More recent is the exhibition on The Renaissance in Astronomy: Books, Globes and Instruments of the 16th Century, created by the Royal Astronomical Society and the Museum of the History of Science to mark the 500th anniversary of the birth of Gerard Mercator 11 May to 9 September 2012

The Digital Rare Book Collection at the Vienna University Observatory provides downloadable facsimiles of three dozen major works between 1473 and 1690, as well as others from the later period.

Nearly 500 astronomical images are provided with detailed commentary in the collaborative project, Astronomical Images: Diagrams, Figures, and the Transformation of Astronomy, 1450-1650, led by Nicholas Jardine of the University of Cambridge.

Most useful of all is the series of animated and narrated videos provided by the Museo Galileo in Florence.  Especially germane is the series devoted to competing astronomical theories.  Each video teaches the essential points in just a few minutes, allowing students to study a whole series in relatively little time, and then to revise very efficiently.  Those marked in bold below provide an introductory basic sequence which can be enriched by studying the others.

An inexhaustible resource is the superb collection of images interspersed with occasional videos at the Museo Galileo entitled Galileo: Images of the Universe from Antiquity to the Telescope

Materials for a global overview can be found at UNESCO's Portal to the Heritage of Astronomy.