Special Collections is pleased to announce the opening of our exhibit Heavenly Revolutions: The Dawn of Our Solar System.The exhibit features rare astronomical works from the world-class Ernst Zinner Historic Astronomy Collection held in Special Collections. On display are original works by many of the most important astronomers in history, including Sacro Bosco, Nicolai Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler, Galileo, Isaac Newton, and others.
Heavenly Revolutions explores a central theme in the history of astronomy, namely the earth's place within the larger universe. Starting with the Greco-Roman astronomer Ptolemy, the exhibit presents the geocentric theory persisting until the seventeenth century that the earth was fixed at the center of space. Following is the heliocentric theory that the earth and other planets revolve around a fixed sun. The new sun-centered theory appeared with the 1543 printing of Nicolai Copernicus' De Revolutionibus Orbium Caelestium (On the Revolution of the Heavens), perhaps the greatest work in the history of astronomy and one that helped establish modern science. The exhibit features a first edition of De Revolutionibus, complete with Papal marginalia, and a second edition printed in 1566. The Copernican Revolution, that the earth and therefore humanity are not at the center of the universe, challenged and threatened ancient and contemporary astronomical theories, as well as worldviews and commonly held religious and cultural beliefs.
Other works on display by Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler, Galileo, and Isaac Newton all either built on, refined, or reworked the Copernican theory, thus laying the foundation for today’s explanation of the solar system.
Heavenly Revolutions was researched, designed, and constructed by Amanda Lanthorne and Anna Culbertson, with assistance from Emeritus Astronomy Professor Fred Talbert and graphic design student assistant D.J. Bradley.
Heavenly Revolutions: The Dawn of Our Solar System will be on display in the Louis Kenney Reading Room (LA4410) through December, 2012.