Astronomy, Cosmic Perspective
Culture, Explorations, Nicholas Campion, Chris Impey

Imagining Other Worlds

Explorations in Astronomy and Culture

Edited by Nicholas Campion & Chris Impey
ISBN: 978-1-907767-11-1
16 May 2018
£19.99 – £29.00
Paperback, ebook; 352 pages

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.


Table of Contents

  • Foreword
    ~ 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 Astrology
    ~ 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 Mediums
    ~ Clive Davenhall
  • A Cosmic End and its Anthropological 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 Celtic Practice
    ~ George Latura
  • The Cosmos As Viewed Through the Lens of a Native American Astronomer-Artist
    ~ Annette S. Lee
  • A Self-Portrait by Galileo?
    ~ Paolo Molaro
  • Einstein, Galileo, and Kepler: The Scientist Portrait Operas of Philip Glass
    ~ Divid 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


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 Colorado, Boulder


Dr Nicholas Campion is Principal Lecturer, Institute of Education and Humanities, and Associate Professor in Cosmology and Culture. He is the director of the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture, the only academic Centre in the world to deal with cultural relationships with the sky and the cosmos. He is responsible for taking forward the Centre’s research and teaching activities, through supervising PhD students, sponsoring research projects, organising conferences and other events, and publishing research via the peer-reviewed journal Culture and Cosmos. He also serves as Programme Director of the MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology.


Chris Impey is a professor and deputy head of the department of astronomy at the University of Arizona. His astronomy research focuses on observational cosmology—using telescopes and other instruments to study the large-scale structure and evolution of the universe. He also does research on education and science literacy.

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