A material history of 16th-century astronomy? – Jim Bennett (University of Oxford, emeritus)

November 5, 2020 @ 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm
Helen Curry

I first encountered the history of science in Cambridge in the later 1960s, when a prominent narrative in the curriculum at HPS was something called ‘the astronomical revolution’. The thread to be followed in this narrative was planetary theory and it led to an understanding of historical ‘cosmology’. This was terrific – intellectual and technical stimulation, sustained by a compelling storyline and offering a fresh start for my flagging engagement with science. I may have emerged ignorant of the astrolabe and knowing little more about even the armillary sphere, but I was switched on to the history of science. Might it have been different? Could we write an account of 16th-century astronomy based on objects? Probably not, but for an hour or so, it’s worth a try.

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