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The Astronomical Observatories of Jai Singh, by Barry Perlus

Monday, October 19, 2020 at 11:15am

Virtual Event

Between 1724 and 1730, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II of Jaipur constructed five astronomical observatories, called Jantar Mantars, in northern India. The four remaining observatories are an extraordinary fusion of architecture and science, combining elements of astronomy, astrology, and geometry into forms of remarkable beauty. The observatories’ large scale and striking geometric forms have captivated the attention of architects, artists, scientists, and historians worldwide, yet their purpose and use remain largely unknown to the public.

In this lavishly illustrated lecture, Professor Perlus will take us on a virtual walk through the observatories. We will pause to look at a few of the most important astronomical instruments, and along the way Professor Perlus will tell us about naked-eye sky observation and the unique designs Jai Singh developed to ensure the accuracy and functionality of his measurements. To illustrate his lecture, Professor Perlus will be using the immersive virtual tours and media features of the website he created about the Jantar Mantars, Perlus will also draw upon material from his recently published book, Celestial Mirror: The Astronomical Observatories of Jai Singh II.

Barry Perlus is an Associate Professor Emeritus in the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning at Cornell University, where he taught courses in photography and studio art between 1984 and 2019. With an avid interest in both art and science, his artistic practice includes projects in photography and digital media, notably panoramic and immersive imagery. As an artist / scholar / author/ educator, Professor Perlus has received numerous grants to support his work, including from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Study in the Fine Arts and the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies at Cornell. Portfolios of his photographs have appeared national publications such as Parabola magazine and Progressive Architecture and his work has been shown in more than 50 one-person and group exhibitions both in the U.S. and abroad.

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Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Asian Studies, South Asia Program, Art, Architecture, Astronomy, History, Science and Technology Studies





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Gloria Lemus-Chavez

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Barry Perlus

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