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Keep looking: Astronomy as a nineteenth-century cultural pillar

Summary: Keep looking: Astronomy as a nineteenth-century
cultural pillar
The Heavens on Earth: Observatories and Astronomy in Nineteenth-Century Science and Culture edited by D. Aubin and C. Bigg and
H. Otto Sibum. Duke University Press, Durham, 2010 384 pp., 62 Illustrations. Cloth: $94.95 (ISBN 978-0-8223-4628-9); Paperback:
$25.95 (ISBN 978-0-8223-4640-1)
Jean-Franc¸ois Gauvin*
McGill University, Department of History, Leacock 608, 855 Sherbrooke Street West, Montre´al, QC H3A 2T7, Canada
Nineteenth-century observatories were nodes of knowl-
edge and power. Whether it was a massive building, a
simple bivouac, a storm-tossed ship or an ensemble of
shacks stretched around the globe, an observatory was a
`theater in which the state, science, and empire were
displayed.' (p. 22) The observatory, according to the editors
of this fresh and original collection of essays, should be
understood `as a specific space of scientific practice and as
an essential element in a number of industrial, technologi-
cal, and military undertakings, in many ways a pillar of the
state.' (p. 4) The conceptual framework of the book is firmly
established on the notions of spaces of knowledge and
observatory techniques, the latter repeatedly (re)defining


Source: Aubin, David - Institut de Mathématiques de Jussieu, Université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie, Paris 6


Collections: Mathematics; Multidisciplinary Databases and Resources