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A Course Connecting Astronomy to Art, History, and Literature
1.D. W. Olson and R. L. Doescher, “Van Gogh, two planets, and the Moon,” Sky & Telescope 76 (4), 406–408 (Oct. 1998).
2.D. W. Olson and R. L. Doescher, “The Boston tea party,” Sky & Telescope 86 (6), 83–86 (Dec. 1993).
3.D. W. Olson and R. L. Doescher, “Paul Revere's Midnight Ride,” Sky & Telescope 83 (4), 437–440 (April 1992).
4.D. W. Olson and R. L. Doescher, “Lincoln and the almanac trial,” Sky & Telescope 80 (2), 184–188 (Aug. 1990).
5.D. di Cicco, “Dating Ansel Adams' Moonrise,” Sky & Telescope 82 (5), 529–533 (Nov. 1991).
6.Libration in latitude occurs because the Moon's axis is tilted with respect to the Moon-Earth orbit plane. Libration in longitude, less simple to explain, is related to the elliptical nature of the lunar orbit, with the Moon rotating on its own axis at a nearly constant rate but orbiting around the Earth at a variable rate, with faster orbital motion near perigee and slower orbital motion near apogee.
7.D. W. Olson, R. L. Doescher, A. K. Burke, M. E. Delgado, M. A. Douglas, K. L. Fields, R. B. Fischer, P. D. Gardiner, T. W. Huntley, K. E. McCarthy, and A. G. Messenger, “Dating Ansel Adams' Moon and Half Dome,” Sky & Telescope 88 (6), 82–86 (Dec. 1994).
8.D. W. Olson, R. L. Doescher, J. A. Burleson, H. E. Davidson, L. D. Denkeler, E. D. FitzSimon, R. P. McGillicuddy, D. N. Montondon, T. Sanchez, V. A. Voss, J. L. Walker, and A. E. Wells, “Identifying the ‘star’ in a long-lost van Gogh,” Sky & Telescope 101 (4) 34–39 (April 2001).
9.D. W. Olson, W. D. Liddle, R. L. Doescher, L. M. Behrends, T. D. Silakowski, and F.-J. Saucier, “Perfect tide, ideal Moon: Wolfe's generalship at the Battle of Québec, 1759,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd series, 59 (4), 957–974 (Oct. 2002).
10.D. W. Olson, M. S. Olson, R. L. Doescher, A. G. Pope, and K. D. Schnarr, “The Moon and the origin of Frankenstein,” Sky & Telescope 122 (5), 68–74 (Nov. 2011).
11.D. W. Olson, R. L. Doescher, K. D. Holsinger, A. B. Ralph, and L. D. Valencia, “Ansel Adams and an ‘Autumn Moon,’” Sky & Telescope 110 (4), 40–45 (Oct. 2005).
12.R. W. Sinnott, “An Ansel Adams encore,” Sky & Telescope 111 (1), 93–94 (Jan. 2006).
13.D. W. Olson, R. L. Doescher, K. N. Beicker, and A. F. Gregory, “Moon and tides at Caesar's invasion of Britain in 55 B.C.,” Sky & Telescope 116 (2), 18–23 (Aug. 2008).
14.D. W. Olson, R. L. Doescher, J. C. Herbert, R. H. Newton, and A. G. Pope, “Edvard Munch's starry skies, stormy nights, and summer sunrises,” Griffith Observer 73 (8), 2–19 (Aug. 2009).
15.D. W. Olson, R. L. Doescher, L. E. Bright, H. N. Reynolds, and A. G. Pope, “Dating an Impressionist's sunset,” Sky & Telescope 127 (2), 34–41 (Feb. 2014).
16.D. W. Olson, Celestial Sleuth: Using Astronomy to Solve Mysteries in Art, History, and Literature (Springer/Praxis, New York, 2014).
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For the past 20 years the author has taught an Honors College course combining astronomy
and the humanities. The purpose of this note is to give examples of methods that can be
adapted to classroom use for topics including night sky paintings by Vincent van Gogh,
Edvard Munch, and Claude Monet, historical events influenced by astronomical factors, and
literary references to the sky by authors including Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Walt
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