Vol 18 no 2 (Autumn/Winter 2014 will be published in July/August 2016. Vol. 19 (2015) will be a double issue featuring the proceedings of the 2013 Sophia Centre conference on Celestial Magic and is scheduled for publication in September/October 2016. Vol. 20 (2016) will be a double issue featuring the proceedings of the 2014 Sophia Centre conference on the Marriage of Heaven and Earth.
Dr Katterfelto and the Prehistory of Astronomical Ballooning
Abstract: Regular telescopic astronomical observations made from balloons began after World War II, though scientific, particularly meteorological, ballooning dates from the mid-nineteenth century. However, astronomical ballooning has a curious prehistory at the dawn of lighter-than-air travel in the 1780s. The self-styled Dr Katterfelto (c.1743?-99) was a German-born travelling showman, lecturer and considerable self-publicist who in 1784-85 claimed to have made important astronomical discoveries from observations made from a balloon. It is unlikely that he made any such observations, or, indeed, any balloon flights. However, the episode throws some light on the world of the itinerant, eighteenth-century astronomical lecturer and the diffusion of contemporary astronomical and scientific knowledge.