A Passion for the Planets: Envisioning Other Worlds, From by William Sheehan

By William Sheehan

Astronomy is by means of some distance the most well-liked of the actual sciences, engaging adequate to develop into a huge cultural preoccupation for plenty of, and for a few a captivating medical task which usually principles their lives. what's the nature of that possible unstoppable charm? during this full of life and compelling account, William Sheehan – specialist psychiatrist, famous historian of astronomy, and incurable observer - explores the character of that attract during the tale of man's visible exploration of the planets.

In this quantity, the 1st of a trilogy, Sheehan starts off with observational astronomy’s profound and lasting impression on his personal lifestyles, surroundings the issues of embarkation for the adventure to come back. He travels around the ancient panorama looking the earliest origins of man's compulsion to monitor the planets one of the hunter gatherers of the higher palaeolithic, and lines the evolving tale from the planetary files of the earliest towns, to Pharonic Egypt via to Hellenistic Greek astronomy culminating in Ptolemy. the need to discover performed its half within the perceptual adjustments wrought by way of the Copernican revolution, in addition to the observational advances accomplished by way of such remarkable characters as Tycho together with his sharpest of eyes, and his sumptuous perform of overall astronomy. the 2 epochal advances released in 1609, either born via planetary statement, particularly Kepler's discovery of the real nature of the orbit of Mars and Harriot and Galileo’s observations of the Moon, have a pivotal position during this account.

Sheehan weaves a wealthy tapestry of social and technological settings, patronage and personalities, apparatus and talents, cosmologies and objectives, factors and compulsions to attempt to provide an explanation for why we've saw, and proceed to monitor, the planets.

The compelling textual content of A ardour for the Planets is more desirable by way of the particularly commissioned planetary paintings of Julian Baum, himself son of a famous planetary observer and historian of planetary observers, and Randall Rosenfeld.

A ardour for the Planets could be of curiosity to all novice astronomers; energetic planetary observers; armchair astronomers; these drawn to the heritage of astronomy; the cultural historical past of technology; and astronomical art.

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Extra info for A Passion for the Planets: Envisioning Other Worlds, From the Pleistocene to the Age of the Telescope

Example text

He did not come back. Midnight struck. And then the whole night went by without any sign of Giovanni. The next morning my uncle, quite unconcerned, returned to the hotel, asked for the key, and went up. There on the floor, a pathetic bundle, was his sweet wife still sobbing. The astronomer let out a cry of surprise. ” he exclaimed, running to her. ” They enjoy talking about their passion – enthusiastic about that which most of the rest of the world holds in indifference – and shut out that world with a kind of code.

Had they done so, they would have spoiled it. None of them sent me off to look for books on astronomy at the local branch library, or charged me with writing a book report or preparing for an exam. I discovered the resources I needed on my own, and put them to my own uses. Above all, once I got that telescope, however modest, I had my Aladdin’s lamp, my magic carpet, my time-machine. Its tripod was like the stirrups of Pegasus; once mounted, I was borne aloft on feathered wings, I peered with eagle sight.

Apparently Denning lived alone with his man servant – he was an accountant by profession. I was also told, some years ago, and the letter is still in my files, that the late Dr. W. H. Steavenson, a very well known English amateur, once visited Denning, to discover a lonely old man sitting by his fireside. 27 There he was, still alone; now by his fire as once by his telescope. As eccentric as these individuals were, they had nothing on Giovanni Schiaparelli, the great nineteenth century Italian observer of the planets, renowned especially for his studies of Mercury and Mars.

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