Christoph Rothmann's Discourse on the Comet of 1585

An Edition and Translation with Accompanying Essays

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Miguel A. Granada, Adam Mosley and Nicholas Jardine

Christoph Rothmann wrote a treatise on the comet of 1585 shortly after it disappeared. Though it was not printed until 1619, Rothman sent a copy of his treatise in 1586 to Tycho Brahe, decisively influencing the latter's rejection of solid celestial spheres two years later. In his treatise, Rothmann joined the elimination of the solid celestial spheres to his concept of air as the substance filling the cosmos. He based his argument on the absence of refraction and the celestial location of the comet. The treatise also contained clear statements reflecting Rothmann’s adoption of Copernicanism. This first critical edition of the treatise is accompanied by an English translation and a thorough commentary. Some appendices with archival documents illustrate the genesis of Rothmann’s treatise.

imagining the unimaginable

The Poetics of Early Modern Astronomy

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Ladina Bezzola Lambert

How is it possible to imagine what is unknown and therefore unimaginable? How can the unimaginable be represented? On what materials do such representations rely? These questions lie at the heart of this book.
Copernican theory redefined the role and importance of the imagination even as it implied the moment of its crisis. Based on this claim, Ladina Bezzola Lambert analyzes seventeenth-century astronomical texts – particularly descriptions of the moon and treatises written in support of the theory of the plurality of worlds – to show how early modern astronomers questioned the role of the imagination as a tool to visualize the unknown, but also how, pressed by the need to support their theories with convincing descriptions of other potential worlds, they sought to overcome the limitations of the imagination with a sophisticated rhetoric and techniques more commonly associated with poetic writing. The limitations of the imagination are at once a problem that all of the texts discussed struggle with and their recurrent theme.
In the first and last chapter, the focus shifts to a more explicitly literary context: Ariosto’s Orlando furioso and the work of Italo Calvino. The change of focus from science to literature and from the narratives of the past to contemporary ones serves to emphasize that the issues relating to the imagination, its limitations and creative means, are basically the same both in science and literature and that they are still relevant today.

On the Distances between Sun, Moon, and Earth

According to Ptolemy, Copernicus and Reinhold

Series:

Henderson

The Prutenic Tables of Erasmus Reinhold, published in 1551, were the first set of astronomical tables to use the Copernican model of the solar system. Reinhold left a detailed account of his derivation of the parameters used in these tables in his "Commentarius in opus Revolutionum Copernici". The present work is based on an analysis of this unpublished manuscript, which was rediscovered early in this century.
In particular, this work analyses the geocentric distances of the sun and moon as found in Ptolemy's Almagest, in both the manuscript version and the Nuremberg edition of Copernicus' De Revolutionibus, in Reinhold's commentary on the Almagest, and in Reinhold's commentary on this section of De Revolutionibus. Chapter one contains a detailed analysis of the lunar distance, and chapter two concerns the apparent diameters of the sun, moon and shadow. The Ptolemaic method, which is the model for Copernicus and Reinhold, requires the determination of these quantities as a preliminary to the calculation of the solar distance, which is treated in chapter three. The fourth chapter is a brief analysis of the relative magnitudes of the sun, moon and earth, which Ptolemy, Copernicus and Reinhold discuss after they have reached values of the lunar and solar distances. The final chapter concerns an application of the distances - the solar and lunar parallaxes and diameters.

Copernicus in the Cultural Debates of the Renaissance

Reception, Legacy, Transformation

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Pietro Daniel Omodeo

In Copernicus in the Cultural Debates of the Renaissance, Pietro Daniel Omodeo presents a general overview of the reception of Copernicus’s astronomical proposal from the years immediately preceding the publication of De revolutionibus (1543) to the Roman prohibition of heliocentric hypotheses in 1616. Relying on a detailed investigation of early modern sources, the author systematically examines a series of issues ranging from computation to epistemology, natural philosophy, theology and ethics. In addition to offering a pluralistic and interdisciplinary perspective on post-Copernican astronomy, the study goes beyond purely cosmological and geometrical issues and engages in a wide-ranging discussion of how Copernicus’s legacy interacted with European culture and how his image and theories evolved as a result.     

The Limits of Influence

Pico, Louvain, and the Crisis of Renaissance Astrology

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Steven Broecke, vanden

Historians of science often acknowledge the academic status of astrology in the early modern period, but mostly fail to explore its relation with other disciplines and its role in society. This book seeks to fill that gap.
The first part of the book examines the practices and functions that shaped late medieval astrology, and relates how its academic status became discredited, both in northern Italy and the Low Countries. The second part of the book examines various counter-strategies of astrological reform, and shows how these ultimately failed to restore public trust in academic astrology.
This book provides a new level of detail to the history of astrology. It also establishes important new links with other fields, like the history of universities, humanism, astronomy, medicine, and instrument building.

The Making of Copernicus

Early Modern Transformations of a Scientist and his Science

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Edited by Wolfgang Neuber, Claus Zittel and Thomas Rahn

All those interested in Copernicus, transformation of images, application of metaphors, history of science,