Between 1650 and 1750, four Catholic churches were the best solar observatories in the world. Built to fix an unquestionable date for Easter, they also housed instruments that threw light on the disputed geometry of the solar system, and so, within sight of the altar, subverted Church doctrine about the order of the universe.
A tale of politically canny astronomers and cardinals with a taste for mathematics, The Sun in the Church tells how these observatories came to be, how they worked, and what they accomplished. It describes Galileo's political overreaching, his subsequent trial for heresy, and his slow and steady rehabilitation in the eyes of the Catholic Church. And it offers an enlightening perspective on astronomy, Church history, and religious architecture, as well as an analysis of measurements testing the limits of attainable accuracy, undertaken with rudimentary means and extraordinary zeal. Above all, the book illuminates the niches protected and financed by the Catholic Church in which science and mathematics thrived.
Superbly written, The Sun in the Church provides a magnificent corrective to long-standing oversimplified accounts of the hostility between science and religion.
J. L. Heilbron, formerly Professor of History and the Vice Chancellor at the University of California, Berkeley, is a Senior Research Fellow at Worcester College, University of Oxford. He was awarded the George Sarton Medal by the History of Science Society in 1993 for his contributions to the field.
Table of Contents
Renaissance and Astronomy
Counter-Reformation and Cosmology
Wider Uses of Meridiane
The Science of Easter
The Luminaries and the Calendar
A Scandal in the Church
A Sosigenes and His Caesars
A New Oracle of Apollo
Perfecting the Parameters
Repairs and Improvements
The Pope's Gnomon
Calendrical and Other Politics
The Meridian in Michelangelo's Church
Meridiane and Meridians
The Accommodation of Copernicus
Heliometry and Heliocentrism
The Last Cathedral Observations
The Things Themselves
Some Means of Conversion
The Equation of Time
More Light Play
What People are Saying About This
A fascinating history of astronomy that shows, as no other work has done so well, what happened to Italian science after Galileo's trial. An astonishing display of erudition and linguistic control, with a wealth of fine details, this is a major history that carves out a unique territory.
A fascinating history of astronomy that shows, as no other work has done so well, what happened to Italian science after Galileo's trial. An astonishing display of erudition and linguistic control, with a wealth of fine details, this is a major history that carves out a unique territory. Owen Gingerich, Harvard University
The question of how Islam arrived in India remains markedly contentious in South Asian politics.
Standard accounts center on the Umayyad Caliphate's incursions into Sind and littoral western India in the eighth century CE. In this telling, Muslims were a ...
John Hirsch chronicles the research, scientists, and ephemera of the Harvard Foresta 3,750-acre research forest
in Petersham, Massachusetts. Essays by David Foster, Clarisse Hart, and Margot Anne Kelley expand the scope of this photographic exploration at the nexus of science ...
Winner of the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award in Concert Music BooksProposing that Arnold Schoenberg has
been more discussed than heard, more tolerated than loved, Allen Shawn puts aside ultimate judgments about Schoenberg’s place in music history to explore the composer’s ...
As part of its 375th celebrations, the University has created a new photo book, Explore
Harvard: The Yard and Beyond. This collection of photographs brings to life the myriad intellectual exchanges that make Harvard one of the world’s leading institutions ...
With some 280,000 objects, the Harvard Art Museum is the largest university art museum in
the United States. Its Fogg, Busch-Reisinger, and Arthur M. Sackler museums feature world-renowned collections of archaic Chinese jades and bronzes, Italian Renaissance paintings, and nineteenth-century ...
Once upon a time, there lived in France a humble juggler, Barnaby by name, who
was skillful but suffered every winter from poverty. A devotee of the Virgin, he had few failings apart from enjoying drink a little too much. ...
Humanitarian, philanthropist, and campaigner for Jewish emancipation on a grand scale, Sir Moses Montefiore (1784-1885)
was the preeminent Jewish figure of the nineteenth century--and one of the first truly global celebrities. His story, told here in full for the first ...
Francesco Petrarca (1304–1374), one of the greatest of Italian poets, was also the leading spirit
in the Renaissance movement to revive literary Latin, the language of the Roman Empire, and Greco-Roman culture in general. My Secret Book (Secretum) records “the ...