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#934880 07/26/21 06:49 AM
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What is the thread that unites: the Wizard Earl, the first recorded use of an astronomical telescope, Sir Walter Raleigh, Virginia, the Gunpowder Plot, and the Smithsonian? Syon Park, a historic estate on the River Thames in England.

Syon House


Mona Evans
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It doesn't look like much - early astronomical telescopes were very primitive. However, this dated drawing of the Moon is the earliest known astronomical telescopic observation. Produced by Thomas Herriot, It predates Galileo's observations by several months.

Click to read more about Syon House and its amazing history.


Mona Evans
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James Smithson,
Quote
born in 1765 and educated at Oxford, studied chemistry and mineralogy and became a notable amateur scientist. He chemically analyzed minerals and plants, and was the first to distinguish between zinc carbonate and zinc silicate, both then called calamine. Since 1832, zinc carbonate has been known as smithsonite. In 1787, only a year out of college, he was elected to the Royal Society of London "for Improving Natural Knowledge."
In later years, James Smithson's will left his fortune to his nephew, but
Quote
If the nephew died childless, the fortune would go toward "an Establishment for the increase & diffusion of knowledge among men." Not in England. Not at all. Smithson was not about to do that. The money was to go to the United States of America. The eventual result was the Smithsonian Institution.

What was Smithson's connection with Syon House?

Quotes are from the Smithsonian magazine.


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