Astronomy Seminar of the Week (2012 May 13)

2012, Week 21

Audio (MP3, 60Mb)
The Great Debate, Part I
Presenter: Dr. Giuseppe Longo
Department of Physics, University of Napoli Federico III

In 1920, Harlow Shapley and Heber D. Curtis held what became known as The Great Debate: Are distant spiral nebulae small and within our own galaxy, or are they large independent galaxies in their own right? This talk outlines the history that led up to The Great Debate.
First presented in Second Life in January, 2011.

Questions and comments can be posted on the discussion thread on Starship Asterisk; Dr. Longo will answer a selection of questions posted by May 27, 2012.

PDF of slides (PDF, 1.7Mb)

Files also available here:,_Part_I

Additional resources
The 1920 Shapley-Curtis Discussion: Background, Issues, and Aftermath by Virginia Trimble
The ‘Great Debate’: What Really Happened by Michael A. Hoskin, Editor, Journal for the History of Astronomy
‘Great Debate’ Review and History by Robert J. Nemiroff and Jerry T. Bonnell
Wikipedia article about The Great Debate

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