By William Sheehan
Astronomy is by means of a long way the preferred of the actual sciences, attractive adequate to turn into an enormous cultural preoccupation for lots of, and for a few a charming medical job which usually principles their lives. what's the nature of that doubtless unstoppable allure? during this vigorous 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 influence 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 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 adjustments wrought through the Copernican revolution, in addition to the observational advances completed by way of such amazing 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 remark, particularly 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, reasons 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 more advantageous by way of 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 can be of curiosity to all novice astronomers; energetic planetary observers; armchair astronomers; these drawn to the historical past of astronomy; the cultural background 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
Dale Guthrie calls the “appetite for hunting” which has characterized humans since the Pleistocene and beyond: In the evolution of hunting the need for nutrition is reinforced not only by an appetite for meat but by a thirst for the jubilation of the seek-and-kill experience. Though carnivores evolved a deep attraction to the taste of meat, the forces that drove hunting did not stop there. Their food does not hold still; it hides and fights back. Therefore, in addition to the delicious taste of red meat, natural selection added a predilection to hunt in the form of a special passion – which takes very little experience to activate.
I admired the Japanese amateurs Kaoru Ikeya and Tsutomo Seki, whose diligent hours sweeping the sky for comets led to the discovery of one that proved to be the most spectacular Sun-grazing comet of the twentieth century. 22 While I was out looking at it, I also turned my 2¼-in. refractor at Jupiter, and had the first view of the planet in the brightening sky of the planet’s belts – they appeared lovely reddish or coppery-hued against the yellow zones of that planet’s gaseous globe. , the first real astronomer I had contact with.
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.
A Passion for the Planets: Envisioning Other Worlds, From the Pleistocene to the Age of the Telescope by William Sheehan