Posts tagged ‘astronomy’

Astronomy in the Maya Codices: APS Memoirs Vol. 265

Astronomy in the Maya Codices: APS Memoirs Vol. 265
By Harvey M. Bricker and Victoria R. Bricker
(Hardcover, 907 pages, 2011, $75.00)

Astronomy in the Maya Codices

The Precolumbian Maya were closely attuned to the movements of the Sun and the Moon, the stars and the planets. Their rituals and daily tasks were performed according to a timetable established by these celestial bodies, a timetable based on a highly complex calendar system. Agriculture provided the foundation for their civilization, and the skies served as a kind of farmer’s almanac for when to plant and when to harvest.

In this remarkable volume, noted Maya scholars Harvey Bricker and Victoria Bricker offer invaluable insight into the complex world of the Precolumbian Maya, and in particular the amazing achievements of Maya astronomy, as revealed in the Maya codices the indigenous hieroglyphic books written before the Spanish Conquest. This far-reaching study confirms that, independent of the Old World traditions that gave rise to modern Western astronomy, the Precolumbian Maya achieved a sophisticated knowledge of astronomy based on observations recorded over centuries. Illustrations.

Here is the right half of the seasonal tables of the Dresden Codex:
Astronomy in the Maya Codices

Astronomy in the Maya Codices is the first thorough treatise on the codices since Thompson’s A Commentary on the Dresden Codex four decades ago,” writes Prof. Anthony F. Aveni, the Russell Colgate Distinguished University Professor of Astronomy and Anthropology and Native American Studies at Colgate University.

“The Brickers’ work is special in that it gives a complete account of the historical background of scholarly inquiries into each of the instruments they deal with. Finally, and most importantly, rather than imagining them to consist merely of endless temporal rounds, the Brickers attempt to place each cordial instrument in real time, an approach they uniquely develop and fully justify. In its depth, thoroughness, and revealed new insights, this work will remain the ‘last word’ on the role of astronomy in the codices and in Maya thought for a long time to come.”

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August 16, 2011 at 11:04 am Leave a comment

New Government Report: Future of NASA

Future of NASA: Space Policy Issues Facing Congress
by Daniel Morgan
Paperback, 36 pages, 2010, $25.00
ISBN: 143792817x

“Contents: (1) Intro. and Legislative Context; (2) What is NASA for?; (3) What Should NASA Do?: Human Spaceflight: The Vision for Space Exploration; Current Program to Implement the Vision; Cost and Schedule; Why the Moon?; “The Gap” and Utilization of the Space Station; Human Spaceflight: The Augustine Comm.; Balancing Competing Priorities; (4) Space Shuttle Program: Why the Shuttle Program is Ending; Possible Extension of the Shuttle Program; (5) International Space Station; (6) Future Access to Space: Orion and Ares; (7) Destinations for Human Exploration; (8) Alternatives to Human Exploration; Robotic Exploration; (9) Other Space Policy Issues; The U.S. Commercial Space Industry; (10) Legislation in the 111th Congress. Charts and tables.”

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September 21, 2010 at 10:20 am Leave a comment

The Long Route to the Invention of the Telescope (American Philosophical Society Transaction 98-5, ISBN: 9781606189856)

The Long Route to the Invention of the Telescope
(American Philosophical Society Transaction 98-5, ISBN: 9781606189856)
by Rolf Willach (Paperback, 116 pages, 2008, $35.00)

Telescope CoverAfter the telescope became known in 1608-1609, a number of people in widely separate locations claimed that they had such a device long before the announcement came from The Hague.

In the summer of 1608, no one had a telescope, in the summer of 1609, everyone had one. How was this possible?

Author Rolf Willach has quietly tested early spectacle lenses in museums and private collections, and now he reports on this study, which gives an entirely new explanation of the invention of the telescope and solves the conundrum mentioned above.

Willach is an optical engineer and independent scholar who worked for several years in the Department of Physics at the Institute of Astronomy in Bern. He has written extensively on the history of the development of optics and the telescope. Illustrations.

“[Willach] has developed the most exciting thesis on the development of the telescope to appear in decades, and he deserves much credit for his bold and carefully proposed and illustrated conjectures,” writes Dr. Marvin Bolt, of Chicago’s Adler Planetarium, in the Journal for the History of Astronomy (February 2010).

“His resulting account is also an excellent example of how to use easily understood and compelling visual evidence without resorting to technological overkill and unnecessary detail.

“With this assemblage and sequence of a wide range of evidence over many centuries, Willach’s volume will inform any serious early telescope scholarship for the foreseeable future, and should be read by anyone interested in the origins of the telescope.”

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July 7, 2010 at 12:29 pm Leave a comment


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