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Celestial Mirror: The Astronomical Observatories of Jai Singh II
In the early eighteenth century, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II of Jaipur constructed five astronomical observatories in northern India. The observatories, or "Jantar Mantars" as they are commonly known, incorporate multiple buildings of unique form, each with a specialized function for astronomical measurement. The four sites that remain represent an extraordinary fusion of architecture and science, combining elements of astronomy, astrology, and geometry into forms of remarkable beauty that have captivated the attention of architects, artists, scientists, and historians around the world.

In a live, virtual Chats in the Stacks talk, Barry Perlus, associate professor emeritus of art in the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning, discusses his photographic exploration of the Jantar Mantars in his book Celestial Mirror: The Astronomical Observatories of Jai Singh II (Yale University Press, 2020). Perlus’s images show breathtaking, 360-degree panoramas, while his explanatory text and diagrams describe the observatories and their workings, providing historical context and insights about the scientific and architectural innovations involved—all to provide a delightful immersive experience that brings the observatories to life.

A live Q&A session will follow the talk. Audience members are encouraged to submit questions for the author to the Chat box in the webinar during the presentation.

Apr 20, 2021 04:30 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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Barry Perlus
Barry Perlus is an Associate Professor Emeritus and former associate dean in the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning at Cornell University, where he has been teaching courses in photography at the graduate and undergraduate level since 1984. 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 shown in Celestial Mirror. Perlus’ long-standing interest in science influences other projects as well, including an ongoing exploration of deep forest spaces at night.