RESOURCES, REFERENCES (and other information) relating to Thomas Harriot

The Thomas Harriot Seminar exists to promote the study of the life and times of Thomas Harriot (1560-1621), and meets bienially in Durham (in December). It publishes an occasional newsletter, The Harrioteer, and a series of Occasional Papers.

Article on Thomas Harriot by Allan Chapman: Published on 6th February 2009 in the magazine A&G (News and Reviews in Astronomy and Geophysics) A copy is here

The Harriot Crater

The Harriot Crater Harriot was finally recognized by the IAU in 1970, who named a rather small Moon crater after him; unfortunately, it's on the far side! For more details see

Rice University Project: Article on Thomas Harriot

Harriot drawings: Useful set of his most interesting drawings here (Rice University catalogue)

List of resources about Harriot: on a St. Andrews University web site

"A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia” Written by Thomas Harriot (orig. in Latin) See here.

"When is the 400th anniversary of Harriot's first drawing?" July 26 2009 has become firmly entrenched as "the" date - it's the one chosen for the Syon House celebrations, it's the one written on Harriot's sketch, and it's invariably the only one mentioned in media releases (and Allan Chapman's article in Astronomy & Geophysics). Let's not forget, though, that the Julian calendar was still in force at the time of Harriot's work. The sketch that's annotated "July 26" would have been done on August 5 if measured using the Gregorian system. So should we be celebrating on 5th August? The answer is that we chose not to, for a variety of reasons. If we accept the argument, we should all celebrate Guy Fawkes attempt to blow up Parliament on 15th November.

However, this is important, as those that might want to simulate the sky that Harriot would have observed with Starry Night or Stellarium etc will need to set the date to 5th August.

But the consensus is indeed that 26th is the anniversary and we have gone along with that. There are, in our case, some good reasons:

  • The date on the drawing is 26th July, and the General Public are not really conversant with the subtleties of the different calendar systems.
  • The event is targeted at families in particular. The 5th August is likely to have many more families away on holiday than the first Sunday after the schools break up.
  • The 5th August is a Wednesday – not a very suitable day for such an event.
  • The 26th July is just a few days after the 40th Anniversary of the historic first moon landing in 1969, so that can be used to add interest to the event.













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