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

By William Sheehan

Astronomy is through a ways the most well-liked of the actual sciences, attractive sufficient to develop into a tremendous cultural preoccupation for plenty of, and for a few a charming clinical job which assuredly principles their lives. what's the nature of that doubtless unstoppable appeal? 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 lifestyles, surroundings 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 strains 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 through the Copernican revolution, in addition to the observational advances completed by means of 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 statement, 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, causes and compulsions to attempt to provide an explanation for why now we have saw, and proceed to monitor, the planets.

The compelling textual content of A ardour for the Planets is more suitable via 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 might be of curiosity to all novice astronomers; energetic planetary observers; armchair astronomers; these drawn to the historical past of astronomy; the cultural heritage of technological know-how; and astronomical art.

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

Sample text

One saw two things only: the walls of an unlocalized, undifferentiated earth and sky above…. As the only visible theater of variety, the sky becomes all-important. ” For me, it was one of the redeeming features of childhood. Though the sky can be discovered from the trenches or the inner city – and is perhaps “counted sweetest” by those who have so little else of natural beauty around them – the Open Sky is only found far from congested human habitations. ” It is the grandeur of this sky, which the nineteenth century first discovered, that makes deserts and plains appealing, that draws some of us to the desolate grasslands of the Dakotas, to the Big Sky Country of Montana, to the deserts of Arizona.

Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1988, p. 99. In the same work, I also coined the term “tachistoscope effect,” since the effect is similar to what a viewer would see through this device, used by perceptual psychologists at the turn of the twentieth century to analyze perceptions during brief exposures. 43 Guthrie, The Nature of Paleolithic Art, pp. 99–100. 41 42 2 By Passion Driven 39 discovery – those who have tasted it, even if it is only something modest and of marginal scientific importance, such as the detection of some new disturbance on Jupiter or the visualization of a flare on Mars – will never forget it.

My collections – be they only scraps of paper with sketches and data about the times and circumstances of observations scrawled upon them – were extensions of myself. I made those records as if under compulsion; they were not done according to principle or plan, they were never organized or methodized. Ultimately, they expressed who I was. And is it not true, as someone – I think it was Jean Baudrillard – put it, “what you really collect is always yourself”? The Moon, the planets and stars were the things I loved and wanted to surround myself with.

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