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  • Writer's pictureDan Dennison

The Astronomers

Several years ago I created a sculpture series based on astronomers. Here is a look back at the series.

 

Ptolemy


Ptolemy was an astronomer and mathematician from Egypt in the 1st century AD. His greatest achievement was developing mathematical techniques for calculating and predicting astronomical phenomena. These techniques laid the groundwork for astronomers that continue to be used to this day..




 

Galileo



Galileo Galilei was a 16th century Italian astronomer and mathematician from Florence. He is most famous for his experiment of dropping two spheres of different weights from the Tower of Pisa. Today it is widely recognized that such an experiment never actually took place. Galileo did, however, propose the idea only as a thought experiment.


Galileo improved upon the technology of the telescope. He is responsible advancing the idea of heliocentrism- the belief that the Earth rotates daily and the planets revolve around the sun. This theory landed him in trouble with the authorities who believed that mankind, and along with it the earth, was the center of the universe.




 

Johannes Kepler




Johannes Kepler was a 16th century German astronomer from Stuttgart. He proposed the laws of planetary motion and gravitational theory which greatly influenced Isaac Newton in his studies of gravity and motion physics. Kepler, like many before him, also contributed to the advancement of the telescope.



 

William Herschel




William Herschel was an 18th century British astronomer from Berkshire. He developed one of the first large telescopes known as The Great 40-foot Telescope. Along with his sister, Caroline, he used this and other large telescopes for studies that resulted in the discovery of the planet Uranus. He was one of the first to propose life on other celestial bodies, believing that there may be intelligent life as close as our own moon.




 

Carl Sagan




Carl Sagan was a 20th century American astronomer and astrophysicist. He is best remembered for his PBS series Cosmos. He co-wrote the series in part to stimulate the public's interest in science, which he believed was stifled due to poor science teaching in schools. The series was a huge success and led to a popularization of science shows on television.


He introduced the idea of the 'greenhouse effect', (a planet's atmosphere acting as a greenhouse to prevent harmful gasses from escaping). He also was prominently involved with NASA's Voyager mission to Venus.





 

This series of sculpture is still on of my favorites. I tried to match the astronomer to the pieces that best fit their accomplishments.


In this post I have included a short synopsis of their work that I hope you find interesting.




 


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1 Comment


audre jarmas
audre jarmas
Oct 01, 2023

Dan, your write ups, and your conceptualization of these sculptures in relationship with these particular astronomers is so compelling and engaging -even to someone like me who is neither an artist nor knowledgeable about astronomy. Thanks for sharing it!

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