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

By William Sheehan

Astronomy is by means of a ways the most well-liked of the actual sciences, attractive adequate to turn into a big cultural preoccupation for plenty of, and for a few a charming clinical task which assuredly principles their lives. what's the nature of that likely unstoppable allure? 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 begins 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 ancient panorama looking the earliest origins of man's compulsion to watch 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 become aware of performed its half within the perceptual alterations wrought through the Copernican revolution, in addition to the observational advances completed via 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 statement, 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, apparatus and talents, cosmologies and pursuits, reasons and compulsions to attempt to give an explanation for why we now have saw, and proceed to monitor, the planets.

The compelling textual content of A ardour for the Planets is greater through the especially 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 should be of curiosity to all novice astronomers; energetic planetary observers; armchair astronomers; these drawn to the background 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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Its tripod was like the stirrups of Pegasus; once mounted, I was borne aloft on feathered wings, I peered with eagle sight. Wielding that telescope was exciting, it was great fun. It opened up limitless possibilities to the imagination at the very moment when those were the things I wanted most. I was about to enter adolescence. Often seen as a problem-time, a period of tumult and alienation, Paul Shepard has written rather more sympathetically of the adolescent stage of life: A different view of the adolescent, less perplexing to adults and more nearly true, is to see him moving toward a peak of discovery and sensibility that he may never again experience.

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. On winter evenings, as I am writing this (February 2009), Venus looms high in the western sky, and I follow its motion nightly with my naked-eye.

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). As one who was “long in city pent,” and who grew up in rather homely surroundings in a rather squalid blue-collar neighborhood that was fast becoming an inner city slum even during my childhood and adolescence, much of what there was of beauty in my life was for me unfolded in that theater of endless variety 32 Bernd Heinrich, Racing the Antelope: what animals can teach us about running and life.

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