Thomas Jefferson had a keen interest in many fields of scientific inquiry, yet he declared astronomy “the most sublime of all sciences.” Jefferson’s copious records reflect this lifelong fascination: he bought the best observational equipment available, enjoyed calculating longitude, visited observatories, and gave rapt attention to celestial events. He even planned an observatory at the University of Virginia.

On Tuesday, May 11, Thomas Jefferson—interpreted by Bill Barker—discussed his interest in astronomy and how he applied this knowledge to real-world challenges in early America.