Tycho Brahe

Tycho Brahe, a Danish astronomer, was born Dec. 14, 1546.  Five years ago, on this day, we ran a post on Tycho that you can still read; it was rather general in nature, and served mainly to introduce the variety of Tycho-related works that we have in our collections,...

Differentiating Astronomy and Astrology in Early Modern Europe

If today there is a sharp distinction between astronomy, the science of stars, and astrology, using horoscopes to make prediction, that has not always been the case. Before the seventeenth century, the words astronomy and astrology were often used interchangeably, and most astronomers (for example, Ptolemy and Kepler) were also astrologers. In this talk, we will examine how the distinction between astronomy and astrology had been puzzling scholars for centuries, and how a consensus was finally found in the early modern period. Behind this question of terminology lies the problem of distinguishing good and bad knowledge, and judging  the heritage of the past. It is a question about the bases and norms of scientific knowledge. It is a question about building boundaries in the intellectual world.

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Ismael Boulliau

Ismael Boulliau, a French astronomer and correspondent, was born Sep. 28, 1605. In an age before the existence of scientific societies and their journals, much of the burden for the exchange of scientific information rested on the shoulders of a few self-chosen…

Robert Fludd

Robert Fludd, an English physician and Hermetic philosopher, died Sep. 8, 1637, at age 63 (fourth image). Fludd is best known for his mammoth encyclopedia, Utriusque cosmi maioris scilicet et minoris metaphysica (History of the Macrocosm and Microcosm, 1617-19), the…