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Imagining Other Worlds

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An anthology of works stemming from the ninth Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena conference.

Editors: Nicholas Campion & Chris Impey
Series: Studies in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology, Vol. 9
Publisher: Sophia Centre Press, 2018
Format: Paperback, 362 pp.
ISBN 978-1-907767-11-1


SKU SCP0009 Category


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Human beings have long imagined what other worlds are like. They have imagined travelling to them, have endowed them with meaning and mystery, and have fantasised about the beings that inhabit them. This anthology brings together chapters from astronomers, historians and writers who are inspired by the sky, and who originally gathered at the conference on the Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena at London’s Gresham College in 2015. Its topics range from the representation and exploration of the sky in the arts, architecture and literature, and from the ancient world to the digital age.

This unique volume describes the richness of human encounters with astronomy. In twenty-six papers, it spans cosmic and human time, starting with the beginnings of the universe, continues with the architecture of Christopher Wren, the astronomical operas of Philip Glass, science fiction by Italo Calvino, and ends with speculations about the Last Days of our universe. The first piece by Lord Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal of England, is truly extraordinary in the cosmic reach of topics and the clarity of his explanations of items like dark energy, multi-universes, black holes, and neutron stars. I doubt that anyone who reads this volume could avoid being stunned by the crescendo of breakthroughs we are now experiencing in astrophysics and by the fascinating variety of human activity that has been inspired by the heavens.

— J. McKim Malville
University of Boulder, Colorado


Table of Contents

Foreword 9
Nicholas Campion and Chris Impey

A Cosmic Perspective: Four Centuries of Expanding Horizons
Lord Rees of Ludlow      

A Cosmic Perspective: A Panel Discussion with the Gresham Professors of Astronomy
Lord Rees of Ludlow, Ian Morison, Carolin Crawford, Michael Rowan-Robinson and Andrew Fabian

Dreams of Distant Worlds
Chris Impey

Memories Unlocked and Places Explored: Stellarium, Temporality and Skyscapes
Daniel Brown

The Oculus Rift Planetarium Project: StarsightVR
Alastair G. Bruce

Adventures in Space: Harmony, Sustainability and Environmental Ethics
Nicholas Campion 

Condensing from a Fluid Haze: John Pringle Nichol, the Nebular Hypothesis and Nineteenth-century Cosmogony
Howard Carlton

Galileo Galilei’s Memorial Tomb in Santa Croce: An Honorific Monument to a Florentine Genius
Liana De Girolami Cheney

Mars and the Mediums
Clive Davenhall

A Cosmic End and its Anthropomorphic and Theological Implications
José G. Funes, S.J.

The Photographic Plate Archive as an Inspiration for Art Projects
Michael Geffert

‘Dancing with the Stars’: Astronomy and Music in the Torres Strait
Duane W. Hamacher, Alo Tapim, Segar Passi and John Barsa

East Meets West: Shi Zhiying’s Picturing  of Italo Calvino’s Mr. Palomar
John Hatch

‘Life is Astronomical’: Connecting Art, Astronomy & Photography at Royal Museums Greenwich
Marek Kukula and Melanie Vandenbrouck

The Zodiacal Light and its Use in Cultic Practice
George Latura

The Cosmos As Viewed Through the Lens of a Native-American Astronomer-Artist
Annette S. Lee

Christ and the Celestial Sphere: A Unique Mosaic in Saint Isaac’s Cathedral?
Michael Mendillo and Ethan Pollock

A Self-Portrait by Galileo?
Paolo Molaro

Einstein, Galileo, and Kepler: The Scientist Portrait Operas of Philip Glass
David Morgan

John Bevis’s Eighteenth-century Uranographia Britannica and the Atlas Celeste: Oft-Overlooked Treasures
Jay M. Pasachoff and Kevin J. Kilburn

Sir Christopher Wren: Architect-Astronomer
Valerie Shrimplin

Junking Astronomy Jargon
Roberto Trotta

Solargraphy: Making the Invisible Visible
Tarja Trygg

Citizen Science on the iss: STE[+a]M It Up! Preliminary Results of a Storytelling  Experiment Using Biosensors
Elizabeth Forbes Wallace

Balla’s ‘Mercury Passing Before the Sun’ and the Modernist Sun
Gary Wells

About the Contributors
Index

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