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Five Books That Changed Our View of the Universe

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Five Books That Changed Our View of the Universe

The historian of astronomy Dr Simon Mitton examines Five Books That Changed Our View of the Universe (Ptolemy’s Almagest, Copernicus’ De Revolutionibus, Galileo’s Siderius Nuncius and Dialogo, and Newton’s Principia) to describe the history of our understanding of the universe and illustrate the marks left by some of the greatest astronomers of all time. This talk is an introduction to books by Ptolemy, Copernicus, Galileo and Newton that changed the way natural philosophers viewed the universe. Ptolemy and Newton had “clockwork” universes, while Copernicus spent half a life-time attempting to simplify the model of the solarsystem, in part to aid astrological computation. Dr Mitton will be bringing a perfect facsimile of the holotype Copernicus De Revolutionibus manuscript to display alongside a full-size replica of the telescope that Galileo presented to Cosimo de Medici. It is fitting that the Moon is at its First Quarter on Wednesday 2nd November, so there is a chance of being able to repeat one of Galileo’s observations!

Dr Simon Mitton is a Fellow of St Edmund’s College, a member of the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, and a noted author of books on the history of astronomy.

This talk is part of the Stokes Society, Pembroke College series.

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