Time and the Moon

1st February 2010, 19:00 - 21:00

The Moon has been important to cultures and religions around the world since human societies first arose. We have used it to light our way, tell the time, navigate at sea and chart a course through social and religious life.

In this event, David Rooney, Curator of Transport at the Science Museum and former Royal Observatory Curator of Timekeeping, will explore the Moon’s role in solving the 18th-century ‘longitude problem’, the biggest scientific, technical and economic problem of its age. Highlighting London’s history as a port city and centre for science, David will focus on the lunar observations that were the foundation of British state astronomy and sea power.

Dr Usama Hasan, science lecturer, astronomer and part-time imam, will examine the role of the Moon and astronomy in Islamic religious practice, analysing current debates over the best way to determine the lunar phase that marks the start of the Muslim month of Ramadan.

Laura Williams, artist and Director of the Aluna project, will reveal plans for a major tidal-powered lunar clock sculpture on the River Thames in London, and will explain how the Moon has been a common thread linking cultures, times and places throughout history.

The speakers will then lead Museum gallery tours, with highlights including the Apollo 10 lunar Command Module; displays about American writer Stewart Brand, who helped convince NASA to reveal photographs of the Earth from the Moon; exhibits about time, transport and trade; and a viewing of the Museum’s new 1001 Inventions exhibition on science from the Muslim world. Discussions of the issues raised will be hosted during the tours.

David Rooney, Curator of Transport, Science Museum
Usama Hasan, Senior Lecturer, Middlesex University
Laura Williams, Artist and Project Director, Aluna

Pallab Ghosh, Science Correspondent, BBC News

Event organised by: Science Museum

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