Industrial Life Creating Fine Instruments and Polluting the Skies

  • Wilson Wall
Part of the Historical & Cultural Astronomy book series (HCA)


Although we commonly consider the positioning of astronomical telescopes on mountains as usual, this is a relatively recent phenomenon. What is not so recent is the realisation that there is something not quite right about viewing stars through the atmosphere. It is fairly certain that one of the earliest comments on this can be found in Sidereus Nuncius, written by Galileo in 1610. Although Galileo did not appreciate the profundity of his observation, he did make the connection between atmospheric interference and the sparkling light of stars. Up until the invention of the telescope, all astronomical observations were by naked eye, more regulated by cloud cover than any manmade pollution or atmospheric disturbances. While it is said that in some of the more densely populated cities such as London, coal burning caused local problems for night sky observers, further south this was not so obvious, as the practice of using wood to heat buildings was much more seasonally controlled and industrial use of furnaces was relatively small.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wilson Wall
    • 1
  1. 1.BewdleyUK

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