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Checking Out the Books that Changed Astronomy

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Books are becoming less common. It’s an
inspirational kind of experience. It’s the inspiration and looking at
several generations of development of astronomical thought. All you’ve heard
before is lecturers and names on PowerPoint. Well now all of a sudden
you’re looking at, you know, at an original book. The students take on a
different demeanor. They’re just not flipping through, they’re very carefully
handling the book they’re in awe of it. I like looking at one from Huygens and I
immediately turn to the back where there’s very intricate drawings of
Saturn and its rings, but not necessarily from an earthly perspective. Someone was
imagining what it would be like if you had a different perspective like you
could go around the backside and see how the ball of the planet casts a shadow on
the Rings. Any person can go into the Special
Collections area of the library, fill out some kind of documentation that says I’d
like to see this book by Galileo, and they will deliver it to you. One of the
books is thought to have Galileo’s handwriting in a couple different places
in the margins and where he made little editorial corrections. I’m kind of
impressed by the markings themselves. They look like a very delicate, printed
penmanship. What we do when Copernicus’s book is on display is it’s opened up to
his heliocentric drawing so that’s like the starting point where the the Sun is
in the center and then planets are orbiting around the Sun. We’ve gone from
seeing PowerPoint to the actual printed page in the book and that’s pretty cool. For
about 2,000 years, going theory was the geocentric theory where everything
revolved around the earth, but that model didn’t explain everything that people
were beginning to observe and record more and more accurately in the sky, and
so Copernicus threw all that out, put the Sun in the center of the universe. He
still kept circular orbits and, ironically, his predictions for the
motion of Mars were no better than the geocentric ones. Kepler added the
elliptical orbits to the heliocentric model and that’s basically what we have
today. This is an optional 1 unit course — I guess they call it a seminar —
astronomical problem solving. The first time I ever did it there was a girl
named Rosa I think and I arranged this with Roger Myers and Special Collections
and he turned it over to one of his assistants named Wendell Cox and the
books are all laid out and the students are going around looking at it in awe
and Rosa took this selfie picture and that completely shocked Wendell. I don’t
know, I guess maybe librarians these days are conditioned to thinking that people
don’t go into libraries and don’t enjoy them, so I think it leaves an impression
that way and drives home the history as well. Hi everyone, I’m Matthew
I’m Aaron. And I’m Michael and thanks for coming along with us as we view these amazing
astronomy books. Don’t forget to tune in next week for our live session where we’ll
answer all of your questions about the video making process and these awesome
historical texts. You can leave your questions below in the comments
or you can join us live during our session and ask them in the chat.
Thanks for watching.

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1 thought on “Checking Out the Books that Changed Astronomy”

  1. Gabrielys Martínez says:

    ¡Maravilloso! Sus videos son fantásticos

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