The Universe Unveiled: Instruments and Images Through History

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9780521791434: The Universe Unveiled: Instruments and Images Through History
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The search for understanding creates more than answers; it also produces instruments, books, maps, and other tools made and used by those seeking knowledge. The Universe Unveiled uniquely focuses on these artifacts and devices resulting from the attempts to decipher the Universe from the late fifteenth to the early twentieth century. Beautiful, full-color photographs capture these extremely rare and sometimes unusual curios. Beginning with the discovery of ways to keep time, The Universe Unveiled depicts the shift from an Earth-centered understanding of the Universe to a Sun-centered view, the mapping of the stars, and the ever-expanding knowledge of the heavens using telescopes. It also examines the developing technologies of navigation and of the measuring and mapping of the Earth. In addition to rare European curios, the book is illustrated with non-Western and American works. With more than 250 full-color images, this unique volume will delight the inventive as well as the curious.

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Sextant, octant, armillary sphere; sundial, moondial, astrolabe. Premodern scientific instruments seem romantic and mysterious. Romantic because they can be very beautiful, works of art the like of which cannot be found among more practical, goal-oriented modern instruments. Mysterious because most of us no longer have any idea which instruments were which, or how they were used.

At the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, Stephenson, Bolt, and Friedman help curate one of the best collections of astronomy instruments in the world. The Universe Unveiled is a dazzling catalog of the most beautiful, ancient, and important objects from the Adler (the first planetarium in the Western Hemisphere) and other museums. Alongside hundreds of gorgeous, clear photographs, they have written a text that gives a real, though brief, idea of how the instruments, maps, and charts were actually used. Most of the objects were made in Europe between 1450 and 1800, but the authors also do a creditable job of discussing Chinese and Islamic astronomy. Altogether, the book is a rare combination of eye candy and intellectual nutrition, which could only really be bettered if it were packaged with the actual instruments. As is, it can make your hands itch with a kind of tactile curiosity, while it caters to your eyes and mind. --Mary Ellen Curtin

Book Description:

The Universe Unveiled documents the human desire through history to explore and understand our world. Taking a unique approach, it focuses on the instruments, books, and maps people have created to decipher the Universe from the late fifteenth through to the twentieth century. Throughout, the book is richly illustrated with full-color images of rare and unusual artifacts from the world-renowned collection at the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum in Chicago. With more than 250 color images the book is a delight to browse, and the clear, lucid and informative text will satisfy readers of all levels.

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Bruce Stephenson; Marvin Bolt; Anna Felicity Friedman
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