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CfP: Astronomical Observatories and Chronometry: Time, Science and Instruments (18th-20th Century)

24. July 2020 - 8:50 Add to calendar
Call for papers

Musée international d’horlogerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds
2-4 December 2020

Over the last decades, several studies have been devoted to the history of astronomical observatories, to the emergence of a culture of precision in their context, and to the professionalisation of astronomy. The growing interest in the material history of science has also much contributed to unveil the importance of observational technologies and their innovation. In this context, several recent research projects are endeavouring to understand the configuration of the material culture of astronomical observation. Such inquiries require an elaborated approach combining the history of science and the history of scientific instruments, soliciting the expertise of historians, restorers, and specialists of museum collections.

The workshop Astronomical Observatories and Chronometry: Time, Science and Instruments (18th-20th Century) will focus on the importance of observatories in the determination of exact time, in the technological innovation of scientific instruments and the improvement of observational techniques, in the diffusion of the measure of exact time among the public, and in testing and certifying precision chronometers. In the framework of this event, the role of observatories as centres of astronomical and astrophysical research will be secondary.

Topics of the workshop will include (but not be limited to):
• The relationship between astronomy and time
• The history of chronometry and the role of chronometric observatories
• The crafting of precision instruments and their trade
• The history of watchmaking industry as of the 18th century
• Scientific practices and the technical know-how in observatories between the end of the 18th century and the mid-20th century

The main purpose of the workshop is to gather senior scholars, students as well as museum’s curators and restorers interested in the study of the aforementioned topics. Senior scholars will introduce and discuss the main topics of the workshop and foster the discussion, while the other participants will have the opportunity to present their research.

Confirmed participants:
Emiliy Akkermans (Royal Museums Greenwich)
David Aubin (Sorbonne Université, Faculté des sciences)
Gianenrico Bernasconi (Université de Neuchâtel)
Paolo Brenni (CNR, Museo Galileo, Florence)
Günther Oestmann (Technische Universität Berlin)
Gudrum Wolfschmidt (Universität Hamburg)

Abstracts (max. 500 words) along with a CV should be sent to and by 24 July 2020 at latest. Presentations can be in either French or English. Accommodation and travel expenses will be covered.

In consideration of the covid-19 crisis, the event might be rescheduled for 26-28 May 2021 in case reasons of public health will demand it.

Organised by: 
Gianenrico Bernasconi (Université de Neuchâtel), Paolo Brenni (CNR, Museo Galileo, Florence)


Musée international d’horlogerie
Rue des Musées 29
La Chaux-de-Fonds


Gianenrico Bernasconi

Cost information

0.00 CHF

Registration information