What's out there? Through prehistory and history, humankind has assessed the all-encompassing universe in many different ways. Every culture and era develops its particular vision and devises its own cosmology to depict and explain what it perceives to be true. Why and how do the Sun and Moon move, the planets and the stars? How does Earth fit into the grand plan? This volume of 15 essays - written by prominent scholars in various fields and colored by the authors' personal experiences - explores both the art and astronomy of various cosmologies. The first seven essays deal with historical perspectives: the cosmologies of East and West, from ancient Babylonia, Greece, and China through classical Western astronomy into the 20th century. The next four essays look at the personal side: cosmologies as portrayed through the art and architecture of Mesoamerica and other Native American communities, of African tribal societies and European cultures. The final four essays focus on various aspects of modern astronomy and cosmology: How do we perceive the universe today? How does this still-evolving vision interpret the major astronomical discoveries of our time: dark matter and hidden mass, the Big Bang and the very shape of space? Throughout, the book seeks to comprehend the universe in terms of art as well as science, imagination as well as logic, observation as well as technology.
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