The Haunted Observatory: Curiosities from the Astronomer's Cabinet

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9781591025122: The Haunted Observatory: Curiosities from the Astronomer's Cabinet
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For many centuries observers of the night sky interpreted the moving planets and the surrounding starry realms in terms of concentric crystalline spheres, in the center of which hung the Earth — the hub of creation. But with the discoveries of Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler, and Newton, astronomers were suddenly struck by a momentous truth: the solar system was neither small nor intimate, but extended an unfathomable distance toward countless even more distant stars. The endless possibilities of these astounding developments fired scientists’ imaginations, leading both to further discoveries and to flights of fancy.
While newly discovered facts are important and interesting, the quaint curiosities and spectral "ghosts" that led scientists astray have a fascination of their own. This is the subject of astronomer Richard Baum in this elegant narrative about the mysteries and wonders of celestial exploration. The fabled "mountains of Venus," a "city in the moon," ghostly rings around Uranus and Neptune, bright inexplicable objects seen near the sun, and the truth behind Coleridge’s "Star dogged Moon" in his famous poem about the Ancient Mariner — these are just some of the intriguing twists and turns that astronomers took while investigating our starry neighbors.
Baum vividly conveys the romance of astronomy at a time when the vistas of outer space were a new frontier and astronomers, guided only by imagination and analogy, set forth on uncharted seas and were haunted for a lifetime by marvels both seen and imagined.

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About the Author:

Richard Baum (Chester, England) is the director emeritus of the Terrestrial Planets Section and Mercury and Venus Section of the British Astronomical Association. A 2005 recipient of the Walter H. Haas Annual Award of the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers, he is the author of the acclaimed In Search of Planet Vulcan (with William Sheehan). He is also the recipient of the prestigious Walter Goodacre Medal and the Lydia A. Brown Medal of the British Astronomical Association. The International Astronomical Union named minor planet 7966 after him.

From Publishers Weekly:

In every field of scientific research, fitful progress is the norm, and comes only after numerous dead ends, backtrackings and wild goose chases that make up "the flotsam and jetsom of scientific advance"; Baum, a British astronomer and author (In Search of Planet Vulcan, with William Sheehan), has put together a fascinating collection of this outmoded ephemera in this alternate history of science, populated by the famous and the forgotten. Each chapter tackles a different story, for instance Herschel's discovery of Uranus (an inspiration for many Enlightenment gentlemen) and the establishment of the first modern observatory, in 1781, by astronomer Johann Schroter in 1781 (a poignant story of discovery and war). Baum helps contemporary readers understand why observations were interpreted as they were, and how centuries-old records still have value today, but he doesn't make it easy: his prose can be convoluted, and long passages describing observational data are difficult to follow. Still, for amateur and professional astronomers, and those interested in the history of science, the gems contained here are worth the effort.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Baum, Richard
Published by Prometheus Books, Amherst, NY (2007)
ISBN 10: 1591025125 ISBN 13: 9781591025122
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Book Description Prometheus Books, Amherst, NY, 2007. Hardcover. Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. ".offers an exciting and fascinating journey to the beginnings of astronomy, when quaint curiosities led scientists astray and brought an air of mystery to the field." Snow capped mountains on Venus, enigmatic objects, and other curiosities are explored. 416 pages, references, Glossary, Select Bibliography, Index. Published @ $28.00. Seller Inventory # 13895

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Richard Baum
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