By Anthony Aveni

Revised and up-to-date, Conversing With The Planets interweaves astronomy, mythology, and anthropology to discover what the universe capacity to us and what it intended to our ancestors. Aveni additionally deftly illustrates the impact of our tradition and ideology at the direction of medical discovery, tracing the increase and fall of astronomy as blown by way of the existing winds of non secular, philosophical, and political swap.

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Additional resources for Conversing with the Planets: How Science and Myth Invented the Cosmos

Sample text

M. at the start of the new year. But if you turn around and look to the east, you will discover that replacements have arrived, rising above the horizon, stellar groups you might remember having seen there last year at this time and the year before, and the year before that. If you return to that open field before dark and watch the sun go down, you might also note which constellation of the zodiac stands over the position where the sun disappears. In the middle latitudes in October, you will see Scorpio mark the spot; in November, Sagittarius will have nudged it aside.

We create order and unity by bringing together seemingly unrelated phenomena and concepts. If we look only at whether the results of science are right or wrong in an absolute, nonhistorical sense, we run the risk of believing that any ways other than our own of understanding and explaining nature have no value, that they never were part of structured and meaningful thinking, that they had no context worth examining. And this reduces the possibility of understanding the origin of our own modern scientific concepts and exactly how they differ from those espoused in faraway places and remote times.

Equating planetary speed with musical pitch, Kepler believed that the raster planets trilled out high notes while the slower ones growled in the bass register. Together they sounded a heavenly symphony ordained by the Creator. When he attempted to write out God’s musical score, Kepler happened upon his harmonic law—the one that mathematically relates a planet’s period of revolution about the sun to its distance from the sun. This law was one of the keys to Newton’s brilliant discovery of the law of universal gravitation, which we still employ to determine how long a Voyager or Magellan space probe takes to get to its planetary destination.

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