By William Sheehan
Astronomy is by way of a long way the most well-liked of the actual sciences, engaging adequate to turn into an incredible cultural preoccupation for lots of, and for a few a captivating medical task which assuredly ideas their lives. what's the nature of that probably unstoppable allure? 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 begins with observational astronomy’s profound and lasting impression on his personal existence, environment the issues of embarkation for the adventure to return. He travels around the historic 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 documents of the earliest towns, to Pharonic Egypt via to Hellenistic Greek astronomy culminating in Ptolemy. the need to detect performed its half within the perceptual alterations wrought through the Copernican revolution, in addition to the observational advances completed by way of such striking 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 commentary, specifically Kepler's discovery of the genuine 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, gear and talents, cosmologies and ambitions, explanations and compulsions to aim to give an explanation for why we have now saw, and proceed to watch, the planets.
The compelling textual content of A ardour for the Planets is superior through the in particular commissioned planetary art 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 attracted to the historical past of astronomy; the cultural historical past of technological know-how; and astronomical art.
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Additional info for A Passion for the Planets: Envisioning Other Worlds, From the Pleistocene to the Age of the Telescope
The column of light captured by the telescope (and ultimately directed to the eye) bears with it an adventurous history: after starting in the Sun, crossing interplanetary space between the Sun and the planet, reflecting off the planet’s surface, then crossing interplanetary space again between the planet and the Earth, it must embark on the most hazardous part of its journey – the transversal of that roiling and tempestuous ocean of air. ”39 John Milton, Paradise Lost, II, 1013–1020. , II, 1043–1044.
2 By Passion Driven 33 that played overhead in the sky (and one could still see the Milky Way from there; something that has been impossible, because of light pollution, for at least 40 years). In a sense, our everyday lives – if only figuratively – too often resemble trench warfare. That being the case, the sight of the sky – almost alone – has the power to raise the mind from despair. ”33 The setting Sun, the Evening Star. Those in the trenches in World War I, Paul Fussell has pointed out, experienced an unreal, unforgettable enclosure and constraint, as well as a sense of being unoriented and lost.
Of course it is the duty of all of us to encourage a laudable interest in the science…. but the utility of an observer constituting himself a showman, and sacrificing many valuable hours which might be spent in useful observations, may be seriously questioned. … The time of our observers is altogether too valuable to be employed in this fashion… My own impression is that, except in special cases, the observer will best consult the interests of astronomy, as well as his own convenience and pleasure, by declining the character of showman; for depend upon it a person who appreciates the science in the right fashion will find ways and means to procure a telescope and gratify his tastes to the fullest capacity.
A Passion for the Planets: Envisioning Other Worlds, From the Pleistocene to the Age of the Telescope by William Sheehan