Michael Chriss cropIn 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.  Yes, we all know that line … but have you ever wondered why it was 1492 and not 1491 – or 1493, for that matter?

Michael Chriss, a retired astronomer and college professor, has wondered about such questions for many years.  He has taught courses about astronomy and culture as he has explored such fascinating topics.

In his Arizona Senior Academy lecture, “New Horizons: the Voyage of Columbus,” Chriss will discuss the tumultuous times of Christopher Columbus, full of changes in politics, religion, astronomy and art.  The Renaissance was in full flower, and that famous voyage of the Italian navigator was an integral part of the times.

The race was on to reach the spices and silks of the orient, and while the Portuguese were intent to do this by going around Africa, Columbus was convinced that sailing to the west would bring success.  That is, if the earth was really round as many thought.  The talk will begin at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday (Aug. 28).

One of the hardest parts of Christopher Columbus's voyage was getting support. He's shown here kneeling in front of Queen Isabella I, who agreed to finance the expedition. This 19th Century lithograph is part of the Library of Congress collection.
One of the hardest parts of Christopher Columbus’s voyage was getting support. He’s shown here kneeling in front of Queen Isabella I, who agreed to finance the expedition. This 19th Century lithograph is part of the Library of Congress collection.

An Academy Village resident and member of the Arizona Senior Academy, Chriss has spent a lifetime in teaching.  Before retirement, he was an adjunct professor of astronomy at San Francisco State and professor of astronomy and humanities at the College of San Mateo.  He received a BS and MS degrees in astronomy from the University of Arizona with graduate studies in the history of art and science at UC Berkeley, Stanford and Oxford.

Submitted by Mike Maharry, Academy Village Volunteer

 

The Voyage of Columbus: In the Context of his Times: Aug. 2013
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