"Let's teach our children from a very young age about the story of the universe and its incredible richness and beauty. It is already so much more glorious and awesome-and even comforting-than anything offered by any scripture or God concept I know."
-Carolyn Porco (Senior research scientist at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo)
"Matter within your fingernail could have spent billions of years exiled in intergalactic space before coming to rest in our solar system."
-James E. Geach McGill University
"If a man in the heavens, moved and carried along by their daily motion, could see the earth distinctly and its mountains, valleys, rivers, cities , and castles, it would appear to him that the earth was moving in daily motion, just as to us on earth it seems as though the heavens are moving....One could then believe that the earth moves and not the heavens."
-Nicole Oresme (14th century Persian scholar)
"Throughout human existence we have looked to the sky. Were there perhaps moments involving a monolithic slab and a summer solstice sunrise as in Kubrick's Ape Prelude in 2001: A Space Odyssey? Why not? Astronomical observations predate writing. The human integration of events in the night sky into a larger view of human order seems to verify a hard wiring of the brain to confer upon celestial goings-on a pattern and organization. The movements of heavenly bodies have been recorded, noted, or remarked upon in an endless variety of ways, but the continuum of astronomical observation across cultures has been consistent."
Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science-from the Babylonians to the Maya
"Ancient and medieval non-Western astronomy is pretelescope, naked-eye astronomy. Even without scopes, however, the ancient Indians, long before Copernicus, knew that the earth revolved around the sun and a thousand years before Kepler, knew that the orbits of the planets were elliptical; the Arabs invented the observatory and named most of our popular stars; the Chinese mapped the sky; and the Amerindians noted important astronomical events with daggers of light or optical snakes that thrill us to this day."
"I sat at the window and as the objects on Earth put aside all their charm to draw attention, there still remained for me the starry sky as, of all showplaces, the most worthy of contemplation...I take on wings of light and soar through all spaces of the heavens. i never come far enough and the desire always grows to go still farther. In such reflections did I present to myself the Milky Way....this luminous arch, which stretches all around the firmament and decorates the world like a ring studded with germs, roused in me astonishment and wonderment."
-Johann Heinrich Lambert
"When I beheld them (the twelve constellations) I blessed; every time which they appeared. I blessed the Lord of Glory, who had made these great and splendid signs, that they might display the magnificence of his works to angels and to the souls of men; and that these might glorify all his works and operations; might see the effect of his power; might glorify the great labour of his hands; and bless him for ever."
-Enoch (2nd century BCE
"Amazed, and as if astonished and stupefied, I stood still, gazing for a certain length of time with my eyes fixed intently upon it.....When I had satisfied myself that no star of that kind had ever shone forth before, I was led into such perplexity by the unbelievablility of the thing that I began to doubt the faith of my own eyes."
-Tycho, on the supernova of 1572
"another reason why many Europeans consider the Chinese such barbarians is on account of the support they give to their Astronomers-people regarded by our civilized Western mortals as completely useless. Yet there they rank with heads of Departments and Secretaries of State. What frightful barbarism!"
-Franz Kuhnert 1884
"Paradoxically, the fascination with astrology in the 14th and 15th centuries encouraged progress in time measurement. This new interest was probably a reaction to a widespread sense of insecurity in Europe, fostered by plague epidemics, wars, and the growing crisis of the Protestant Reformation. Astrology reflects a desire to foresee the future, to gain some idea of what to expect. It motivated scientists to seek better knowledge of the movements of the celestial luminaries, that is, of the sun, moon and planets. "If the confident hope of reading the future in the heavens did not exist, would people be wise enough to study astronomy for its own sake?" the German astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) wondered in the late 16th century. Both he and the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) apparently practiced astrology with pleasure."
The Calendar: History, Lore, and Legend
"Astronomy is a great human endeavor, international in its ideals and performance and shared by thousands of scientists, technicians, engineers, and craftsmen. Its instruments are. the most beautifully precise, exquisitely delicate, and incredibly sensitive that the genius of man can produce."
"Those whose pursuit of knowledge takes them to the summit of the world,
Whose intellect penetrates the depths of the universe,
To them the sky shall be an upturned goblet
From which, their heads thrown back, they shall drink to
"This orb of stars, infinitely up extendeth....garnished with perpetual shining glorious lights innumerable, far excelling our sun both in quantity and quality....wonderful & incomprehensible huge frame of God's work.....we live on a dark and obscure Terrestrial Star, where, wandering as strangers, we lead, in a short space of time, a life harassed by varied fortunes."
Thomas Digges (the first astronomer to state that the universe extended forever-and possibly the inventor of the first telescope-1500 something)
(from Mirror Mirror by Mark Pendergrast)
"The stars are not so strange as the mind that studies them, analyzes their light, and measures their distance."
-Harry Emerson Fosdick
"I solved it, and on the following day I constructed the instrument."
"Placing my eye near the concave lens...I perceived objects satisfactorily large and near, for they appeared three times closer and nine times larger than when seen with the naked eye alone. Next I constructed another one, more accurate, which represented objects as enlarged more than sixty times."
"It is a very beautiful thing, and most gratifying to the sight, to behold the body of the moon."
-Galileo Mar 1610
"The galaxy is, in fact, nothing but a congeries of innumerable stars grouped together in clusters. Upon whatever part of it the telescope is directed, a vast crowd of stars is immediately present to view."
"People gave ear to an upstart astrologer who strove to show that the Earth revolves, not the heavens or the firmament, the Sun and the Moon....This fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred Scripture tells us that Joshua commanded the Sun to stand still, and not the Earth."
"Who will venture to place the authority of Copernicus above that of the Holy Spirit?"
"Copernicus was influenced by Neoplatonic sun worship as well. This was a popular view at the time-even Christ was being modeled by Renaissance painters on busts of Apollo the sun god-and decades later, back in the rainy north. Copernicus remained effusive on the subject of the sun. In De Revolutionibus he invokes the authority of none other than Hermes Trismegistus. "the thrice-great Hermes," a fantastical figure in astrology and alchemy who had become the patron saint of the new sun-worshippers: "Trismegistus, "the thrice-great Hermes," a fantastical figure in astrology and alchemy who had become the patron saint of the new sun-worshippers: "Trismegistus calls (the sun) a 'visible god." Sophocles' Electra 'that which gazes upon all things." He quotes the Neoplatonist mystic Marsilio Ficino's declaration that "the sun can signify God himself to you, and who shall dare to say the sun is false?" Finally, Copernicus tries his hand at a solar paean of his own:
"In this most beautiful temple, who would place this lamp in another or better position than that from which it can light up everything at the same time? For the sun is not inappropriately called by some people the lantern of the universe, its mind by others, and its ruler by still others."
Coming of Age in the Milky Way
"For ye are a beauty and a mystery,
And create in us such love and reverence
That life, fame, power and fortune
Have named themselves a star."
"It is no exaggeration to say that astronomy has existed as an exact science for more than five millennia.
Astronomy and Cosmology
Astronomy was the daughter of idleness"
Bernard de Fontenelie
San Diego , Jan 8(AP-)
"Out for a stroll one starry night, it struck me how rarely we astronomers ever look at the sky."
"As a culture, we have successfully sent men to the moon and brought them back, along with geologic samples of earth's closest celestial neighbor. But we are still collective failures at understanding the universe in which we live.
Part of the problem lies in the natural vanity of the human mind. We view the universe egocentrically, as if we personally were the center and essence of time and space. We tend to value most those things that can be seen to bear directly upon our lives.
It is the purpose of education to expand this narrow focus and provide a more cosmic view of the human experience. Astronomy and the night sky are subjects that satisfy this need. But they are subjects in which our educational system has historically functioned well below the old "gentleman's grade of C" in terms of creating a general astronomical visual literacy.
What should educated and visually literate people know about astronomy and the night sky? At the very beginning of the twentieth century, American astronomer Asaph Hall (1829-1907) expressed his opinion. Hall was then the director of the United States Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. He was well-known as the astronomer who discovered Deimos and Phobos, the two natural satellites, or moons, of Mars.
Hall included the following among his "common, everyday facts of the science (astronomy) which can be learned by any intelligent student without mathematical training", (1) why the stars rise and set, (2) the motions of the planets and the moon among the stars, (3) the reasons for our different seasons, (4) the names of the principal constellations, and (5) why the constellations seem to change with the seasons.
Hall reasoned that these aspects of astronomy and the night sky are before our eyes all the time, and that everyone who is fairly well educated ought to know something about them. He also advocated the inclusion of aspects of the history of astronomy in the curriculum of our nation's high schools and colleges.
Hall's lobbying efforts on behalf of astronomy education would not have been needed in the nineteenth century. Astronomy was then an integral part of the "natural philosophy" components of the high school and college curriculum in the United States. But between 1895 and 1910, there was a 90 percent decline in the number of entering college freshmen who had studied astronomy. In 1930, astronomy was being studied by only 0.06 percent of all high school students. What had happened?"
Dark Sky Legacy
Astronomers have found what may be the largest structure in the observable universe, an immense concentration of quasars and galaxies clustered across more than 600 million light years.
The structure, which would include billions upon billions of stars like the Sun, is 6.5 billion light years away, which means the cluster existed when the universe was just a third of its present age of about 10 billion years. The light that revealed the cluster actually started its long journey before formation of the solar system that includes Earth.
"We have found nothing bigger in the literature and nobody has brought to our attention anything bigger," said Gerard Williger, a National Optical Astronomy Observatories researcher now working at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD.
Asteroid by Patricia Barnes-Svarney
"The figure of a mirror is rather like the figure of a woman-a curve that is not only beautiful but exactly adapted to its purpose. No sculptor ever smoothed the contours of a statue with more loving care than the optician who works a lustrous surface upon glass down to the perfect parabolic curve which will capture not only the admiration of his fellows but the secrets of the stars."
-David O. Woodbury
The Glass Giant of Palomar ,1939
Book: "The Dawn of Astronomy" by Sir Norman Lockyer
Book: "Astronomy Through the Ages: The Story of the Human Attempt to Understand the Universe" by Robert Wilson
Book: "Starlight Nights" by Leslie Peltier
Book: "Coming of Age In the Milky Way" by Timothy Ferris
Book: "Echoes of the Ancient Skies: The Astronomy of Lost Civilizations" by E.C. Krupp
Book: "Stargazer: The Life and Times of the Telescope" by Fred Watson
Book: "A History of Astronomy from Thales to Kepler" by J.L.E. Dreyer
Book: "The Eye of Heaven" Ptolemy, Copernicus, Kepler." .by Owen Gingrich
Book: "Early Astronomy. by Hugh Thurston
Book: "Astronomy Without a Telescope" by Patrick Moore
Book: "From the Earth to the Moon" by Jules Verne
Book: "The Moon: Myth and Image" by Jules Cashford
Book: "Gods in the Sky: Astronomy, Religion and Culture from the Ancients to the Renaissance" by Allan Chapman
Book: "Stairways to the Stars: Skywatching in Three Great Ancient Cultures" by Anthony Aveni
Book: "Kepler's Witch: An Astronomer's Discovery of Cosmic Order Amid Religious War, Political Intrigue, and the Heresy Trial of His Mother" by James A. Connor
Book: "Conversing with the Planets" by Anthony Avenia
Book: "The Planets" by Dava Sobel
Book: "Seeing In The Dark: How Backyard Stargazers Are Probing Deep Space and Guarding Earth from Interplanetary Peril." by Timothy Ferris
Book: "Celestial Treasury: From the Music of the Spheres to the Conquest of Space" by M. Lachieze-Rey & J-P Luminet
Book: "Discovering The Universe, Fifth Edition" by N.F. Comins & W.J. Kaufmann III
Book: "astronomy Through The Ages: The Story of the Human Attempt to Understand the Universe" by Robert Wilson
Book: "It Started With Copernicus: How Turning the World Inside Out Led to the Scientific Revolution" by Howard Margolis
Book: "Parallax: The Race to Measure the Cosmos" by Alan W. Hirshfeld
Book: "Mirror, Mirror" by Mark Pendergrast
Book: "Wayfarers in the Cosmos: The Human Quest For Meaning" "by G.V. Coyne & A. Omizolo
Book: "Setting Sail For the Universe: Astronomers and Their Discoveries." by Donald Fernie
Book: Exact Sciences in Antiquity" by Otto Neugebauer
Book: "Cometography" by Gary W. Kronk
Book: "Astronomy Through The Ages: The Story of the Human Attempt to Understand the Universe" by Robert Wilson
Book: "Archives Of The Universe: A Treasury of Astronomy's Historic Works of Discovery" Ed. by Marcia Bartusiak
Book: "The Extravagant Universe: Exploding Stars, Dark Energy and the Accelerating Cosmos" by Robert P. Kirshner
Book: "Dark Sky Legacy: Astronomy's Impact on the History of Culture" by George Reed
Book: "The History of Ancient Astronomy: Problems and Methods, in Astronomy and History: Selected Essays" by Otto Neugebauer
Book: "Ancient Astronomers" by Anthony Aveni
Book: "The Firefly Encyclopedia of Astronomy" ed by Paul Murdin and Margaret Penston
Book: "Stare Lore: Myths, Legends and Facts" by William Tyler Olcott
Book: "The Star Mirror: The Cosmic Symmetry Of Heaven and Earth" by Mark Vidler
Book:" Astronomy & Astrophysics in the New Millennium"
Book: "The Neptune File: A Story of Astronomical Rivalry and the Pioneers of Planet Hunting" by Tom Standage
Book: "The Planets" by Dava Sobel
Book: "Cosmic Horizons: Astronomy at the Cutting Edge" Ed. by S. Soter & N.D. tyson
Book: "The Sun From Space" by K.R. Lang
Book: "Archives of the Universe: A Treasury of Astronomy's Historic Works of Discovery" Ed by Marcia Batusiak
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