This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Robert I. Wolff discusses the significance of astronomy in the war and in the post-war years.
Wolff discusses the worldwide impact of the total war, and how astronomy in the days of pure knowledge determined time zones around the world. Almanacs and navigation are contributions of astronomers to the war effort. This is a war in the air and flight are made in the night and over open ocean. Navigation via radio beams is out of the question, therefore celestial navigation is a must. He presents an example of a captain using a sexton to calculate his position at sea, he presents the story of Captain Sumner.
He notes the role of HO214, a set of mathematical tables bound in 9 volumes, and utilized for ship navigation. Other smaller tables exist for pilots.
He notes that the greatest contribution of astronomy will be in the post war world, astronomy relies on a cooperative effort.
He warns against isolationism in astronomy, noting that no progress can be made with out cooperation and continuity. He encourages a cooperative effort, and maintained communication to provide an unbroken record for future astronomers.
Audio courtesy of the City University of New York
WNYC archives id: 71456