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Summer Jefferson Symposium

Thomas Jefferson and the History of Astronomy at the University of Virginia

Thomas Jefferson was an avid astronomer. He conducted observations at Monticello and corresponded with many of the most important astronomers of his day. For the University of Virginia, he include astronomy in the early curriculum, he drew up plans for a permanent observatory, which would have been the first in the western hemisphere, and he proposed painting the night sky on the inside of the Rotunda Dome. In this talk, we will discuss Thomas Jefferson's interest in astronomy and how it influenced the study of astronomy at the University of Astronomy since its founding. Weather permitting, we will view celestial objects through the historic 26-inch telescope.


Edward Murphy
Associate Professor of Astronomy, University of Virginia

Edward Murphy is an Associate Professor in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Virginia. He teaches introductory astronomy to non-science majors, evening classes for the public at McCormick Observatory, summer workshops for teachers, and seminars for graduate students and first year undergraduates. His research interest is studying the interstellar medium (the gas between the stars) using an orbiting satellite, the Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer, and radio telescopes in West Virginia.

As the coordinator for the education and public outreach program in the Department of Astronomy, he runs the public night program and can be found at McCormick Observatory at almost every public night. He has produced the course "Our Night Sky" with the Teaching Company, which introduces people to the stars and other objects in the night sky, including the constellations and their myths.

"I cannot live without books."
- Thomas Jefferson