Astronomy Astrophysics

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

By William Sheehan

Astronomy is by way of a ways the preferred of the actual sciences, engaging adequate to develop into an immense cultural preoccupation for lots of, and for a few a charming clinical task which usually ideas their lives. what's the nature of that possible unstoppable appeal? during this energetic 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 starts off with observational astronomy’s profound and lasting impression on his personal existence, environment 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 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 discover performed its half within the perceptual alterations wrought by means of the Copernican revolution, in addition to the observational advances completed through such notable characters as Tycho along with his sharpest of eyes, and his sumptuous perform of overall astronomy. the 2 epochal advances released in 1609, either born via planetary commentary, 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 abilities, cosmologies and pursuits, factors 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 improved through the in particular 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; lively planetary observers; armchair astronomers; these drawn to the heritage of astronomy; the cultural background 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

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H. G. ” In: Best Science Fiction Stories of H. G. Wells (New York: Dover Publications, 1966), p. 276. 47 Percival Lowell, Mars and Its Canals (New York: Macmillan, 1906), p. 8. 48 To be perfectly correct, it was the character in Lovecraft’s abortive novel, Azaroth, these words describe. The 500 words of the beginning of this novel are quoted in their entirety in a letter from H. P. Lovecraft to Frank Belknap Long, June 9, 1922. 45 46 2 By Passion Driven 41 I assert, however, that it is not even necessary to use a telescope for all the old passion to kindle into flame.

63. Mick Conefrey, A Teacup in a Storm: an explorer’s guide to life. (New York: HarperCollins, 2005), p. 90. 36 37 36 2 By Passion Driven Percival Lowell observing Venus with the 24-in. Clark refractor at Lowell Observatory. Courtesy of Antoinette Beiser, Lowell Observatory creatures living on the surface of the Earth, which is actually the deep sea floor beneath a massive ocean of air, this is always only a partial solution, for air waves interpose their own barrier to seeing. 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.

It was, insofar as I could manage it, representational, not abstract art; I tried to depict what I saw to the best of my ability. If I had lived in the Pleistocene, I undoubtedly would have covered the limestone walls of deep caves with the things that were most important in that world of the Ice-Age Mammoth Steppe – the Great Beasts. Living in the early Space Age, I drew the Moon and planets. 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.

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