By William Sheehan
Astronomy is through a long way the preferred of the actual sciences, engaging adequate to turn into a big cultural preoccupation for lots of, and for a few a charming clinical task which usually ideas their lives. what's the nature of that probably 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 throughout 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, atmosphere the issues of embarkation for the adventure to come back. He travels around the old 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 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 by way of the Copernican revolution, in addition to the observational advances completed via 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 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 abilities, cosmologies and pursuits, causes and compulsions to aim to provide an explanation for why we've got saw, and proceed to monitor, the planets.
The compelling textual content of A ardour for the Planets is improved by means of 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 can be of curiosity to all beginner 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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Extra info for A Passion for the Planets: Envisioning Other Worlds, From the Pleistocene to the Age of the Telescope
Our world is a point; then what are we? ” The universe does not extol the grandness of man – but comments with eloquent silence upon his insignificance. At some level the burning away of our own ego is purifying. To contemplate the heavens is to participate in a kind of cosmic Zen. To participate in such vastness is – at least briefly – to annihilate the troublesome sense of self and its problems – to achieve Nirvana by becoming, by definition, part of something infinitely grander than one’s self (even if only for a few moments).
Later I began to get into mountain climbing – or more accurately, hiking. I enjoyed the solitudes of open spaces – the magnificent – unfettered – ungirt views of the heights. Skies as far as eye can see. More voids, more balances to the verbose and prosaic. Standing on a mountaintop, I could in a manner of speaking look “down” on the Earth. But the Earth itself – and any point therein from which one enjoyed an unobstructed view of the skies – was a mountaintop of sorts from which to look “down” on the entire universe.
New York: Free Press, 2006, p. 27. 28 29 2 By Passion Driven 29 Tammet’s room, Burnham’s cabin with its antiquities, the Cavorite sphere, an astronomical observatory – all of these are variations on a common theme. From an early age I wanted to have my own private place where I could retreat – safely – from human contact and enjoy something more objective and real than the world of social relations or merely human things. I liked the cozy womblike confines of a close and sheltered little space.