Benjamin Banneker: Changing the World One Star at a Time

Recently I learned more about Benjamin Banneker, born in 1731, and considered to be one of the first black men of science.

While he spent most of his time helping at his family tobacco farm, Benjamin was always reading and learning as a favorite pastime. In fact, when someone traveling by the family farm and showed Benjamin his stopwatch, he was so curious about it, that he got permission to carefully pull it apart. Benjamin took notes and drew pictures of each piece, which later inspired his creation of the first wooden clock in his county, earning him the nickname of "the inventor."

Not too far from the Banneker farm was the county store, a gathering place where Benjamin befriended a fellow scientist, George Ellicot. George loved astronomy and taught Benjamin how to use his equipment. This planted the seed for Benjamin's almanac, in which Benjamin shared notes and observations as well as illustrations of what time the sun set, phases of the moon and even how the tide changed. I've heard of the The Old Farmer's Almanac, but I hadn't known that Benjamin published a separate almanac annually from 1792-97. In it he included his scientific knowledge, as well as poems and essays against slavery.

Follow in Benjamin Banneker’s footsteps and satisfy your natural curiosity by observing the sky this summer by checking out these recommended astronomy books for teens, and using one of five reflector telescopes (and related equipment) now available at the following CPL branches for use by teens and their community with thanks to the Adler Teen Community Ambassador HIVE Grant:

Finally, please join Adler this fall with Teen Community Ambassadors for several free sky-viewing events scheduled at CPL branches in September – November 2016!

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