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

By William Sheehan

Astronomy is via a ways the preferred of the actual sciences, engaging sufficient to develop into an enormous cultural preoccupation for plenty of, and for a few a captivating medical task which assuredly principles their lives. what's the nature of that possible 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 throughout 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 impact on his personal lifestyles, surroundings the issues of embarkation for the adventure to come back. 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 lines 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 discover performed its half within the perceptual alterations wrought by way of the Copernican revolution, in addition to the observational advances accomplished by means of such awesome 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 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 ambitions, reasons and compulsions to attempt to provide an explanation for why we've got saw, and proceed to watch, the planets.

The compelling textual content of A ardour for the Planets is superior by way of the particularly 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 may be of curiosity to all novice astronomers; lively planetary observers; armchair astronomers; these drawn to the background of astronomy; the cultural background 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

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As eccentric as these individuals were, they had nothing on Giovanni Schiaparelli, the great nineteenth century Italian observer of the planets, renowned especially for his studies of Mercury and Mars. He was one of a small pantheon of Giovanni Virginio Schiaparelli. William Sheehan collection Richard Baum to William Sheehan; personal correspondence, November 24, 1989. 27 28 2 By Passion Driven astronomical deities I worshipped as a youngster (which is to say I took them as role models, aspired to be like them).

99. William Sheehan, Planets and Perception: telescopic views and interpretations. 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.

I do not believe I had ever been (except for the presence of my companion) so far from other human beings up to that time; when we at last turned in, and the wind rose in fury in the darkness, threatening to hurl our tent off the ridge, I was unable to sleep – not only because of the slapping and cracking of the canvas, but because I could not contain the excitement of what I had discovered about myself. 35 My habitat is the plains, the mountains, the wilderness, not the city or the farm or the club.

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