52 photographs (2018) #21: Perhaps one of the most important teapots in astronomy

52 photographs (2018) #21: Perhaps one of the most important teapots in astronomy

This is is perhaps one of the most important teapots in astronomy, it’s the teapot used to brew and serve tea during Cambridge’s Institute for Astronomy tea breaks. Much of scientific research in the UK is fuelled by the consumption of large amounts of tea, and the tea break is an an important ritual in research life there. In fact, one of my first experiences in astronomy was as a work-experience student at the Armagh Observatory sometime in the 1980s. I was most impressed by the tea-break! I never saw so many people together discussing such obscure and interesting topics. I think that was the moment I realised that I wanted to be an astronomer.

Perhaps one of the most important teapots in astronomy
52 Photographs (2018) #19: Discovering Chris Marker

52 Photographs (2018) #19: Discovering Chris Marker

I took a few photographs at the Chris Marker show at the Cinémathèque. I was particularly interested in the cabinet where photographs of Marker and his family were assembled. It was interesting to see them; as I mentioned in my article, Marker was a private individual. When asked for his photograph, we would invariably send a picture of his cat. So I certainly wanted to take a picture of this display. All those Chris Marker photographs in the same place! But there was a man who was examining the photographs very intently. After he heard the click of my shutter he turned to me and said, I am looking at these pictures so closely because this is my family! He explained that Marker’s family was essentially divided into the mother’s side and the father’s side, and the latter side didn’t care so much for art, culture and cinema. Perhaps this was one of the reasons why Marker so rapidly changed his name. Anyway, this fellow was interesting character, and it was nice to talk to him.

Investigating the family of Chris Marker
The Strand magazine, 1896: a Howard Grubb Illustrated interview

The Strand magazine, 1896: a Howard Grubb Illustrated interview

After writing about telescopes in space in my last article, I was reminded of this “illustrated interview” of Howard Grubb, published in the Strand Magazine in 1896. It starts perhaps not very promisingly: “The poverty of Ireland is such that the superficial observers are apt to wonder whether any good thing can really come out of that distressful country”. It does improve from there! It was sent to me by a descendant of Grubb. It is very interesting, especially the part at the end about future large telescopes which, of course, will be floating in water. The image below is supposed be “casting the mirror for the great Melbourne telescope” but it doesn’t look like any kind of “astronomical” ceremony to me!

“Casting the mirror for the great Melbourne telescope”

Read the PDF here:

TheStrandMagazine-1896-b-Vol.XII-Jul-Dec-Sir-Howard-Grubb-illustrated-interview-1