Read e-book online A Passion for the Planets: Envisioning Other Worlds, From PDF

By William Sheehan

ISBN-10: 144195970X

ISBN-13: 9781441959706

Astronomy is by means of a long way the most well-liked of the actual sciences, engaging adequate to develop into an important cultural preoccupation for plenty of, and for a few a captivating clinical job which assuredly ideas their lives. what's the nature of that possible unstoppable charm? during this full of life and compelling account, William Sheehan – expert psychiatrist, famous historian of astronomy, and incurable observer - explores the character of that attract in the course of 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 impact on his personal existence, environment 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 watch 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 detect performed its half within the perceptual alterations wrought via the Copernican revolution, in addition to the observational advances completed through such notable 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 remark, specifically 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, gear and talents, cosmologies and pursuits, explanations and compulsions to aim to give an explanation for why we've saw, and proceed to monitor, the planets.

The compelling textual content of A ardour for the Planets is superior via the specifically 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 drawn to the heritage of astronomy; the cultural background of technology; 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

Example text

In my case – as for Thoreau and for many an amateur astronomer else – Walden Pond is the universe, no less. We need nothing more than a spot from which to look out with wonder, some place from which to throw our gaze at a picture-window-view far grander than that from the most extravagant Great House or Palace, with lawns and woods and territory so vast that imagination cannot compass it. We need some place like Ogilvy’s observatory in the opening chapter of The War of the Worlds: the black and silent observatory, the shadowed lantern throwing a feeble glow upon the floor in the corner, the steady ticking of the clockwork of the telescope, the little slit in the roof – an oblong profundity with the star-dust streaked across it.

Then the nostalgia for the way things used to be done returns. I recall again how I used to be entranced by the hour with a lovely planet blazing on the night sky through the slit of a small dome: what it was like to commune, one on one, with these other worlds, how I sometimes experienced during those nocturnal vigils the same state of abstraction from the mundane that the adept in Eastern mysticism accomplished only through painstaking mastery of the lotus position combined with rigorous inculcation through all the stages of abstruse contemplation.

19 2 By Passion Driven 21 I admit that – dazzled as I was by what they had accomplished – I secretly believed, or hoped, that I might one day be counted among them, if I tried hard enough – if I did as they did. I too craved membership among the gods. I read about Copernicus – Tycho – Kepler – Galileo. There was even a real astronomer in the neighborhood – Strathmore R. B. Cooke, a native New Zealander who taught geology at the University of Minnesota and was an accomplished observer of the Moon with a 12½-in.

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A Passion for the Planets: Envisioning Other Worlds, From the Pleistocene to the Age of the Telescope by William Sheehan


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