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Seeing and Believing: How the Telescope Opened Our Eyes and Minds to the Heavens [Hardcover]

Richard Panek
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

29 Oct 1998
A concise look at the impact of the advent of the telescope on the way humans view the universe and their place in it focuses on the visionaries, beginning with Galileo, who created and perfected it.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 198 pages
  • Publisher: Viking/Allen Lane (29 Oct 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670876283
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670876280
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 11.4 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,012,801 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
Tube of lead, two disks of glass: The answer, when at last it arrived, appeared to be simplicity itself. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb little book! 15 Jun 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This is a very enjoyable book! As a professional astronomer, I can only recommend this book to all people interested on the impact that the telescope had in the history of mankind. Although there is no deep technical description of telescopes here, this is not the point. The telescope has changed and is still changing the way we see the Universe and Panek does a very good job at describing the major contributions of this wonderful invention.
My only complaint is that the last chapter might be a bit too rushed compared to the previous ones since it basically reviews all modern astronomy in about 20 pages. But, otherwise, strongly recommended!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Gem! 30 Nov 1998
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Even if you know nothing about astronomy --even if you don't care about astronomy -- you will love this book. It is written so gracefully, so unpretentiously (no 'we are starstuff' bombast) and the story it tells is so intriguing, that even science-shy readers can enjoy -- and learn. (I know because I am one.) The book is very pretty ,too -- small and slender, and with a lovely cover. A perfect present.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Elegant, terrific, informative 19 Oct 1998
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Richard Panek has outdone even his fine Waterloo Diamonds book. In Seeing and Believing, he unites science, history, and philosophy in a very accessible and dramatic way. I would think anyone concerned with contemporary technology issues will want to devour this book, and that it would make a stellar holiday gift for any thinking person.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb little book! 15 Jun 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a very enjoyable book! As a professional astronomer, I can only recommend this book to all people interested on the impact that the telescope had in the history of mankind. Although there is no deep technical description of telescopes here, this is not the point. The telescope has changed and is still changing the way we see the Universe and Panek does a very good job at describing the major contributions of this wonderful invention.
My only complaint is that the last chapter might be a bit too rushed compared to the previous ones since it basically reviews all modern astronomy in about 20 pages. But, otherwise, strongly recommended!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elegant, terrific, informative 19 Oct 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Richard Panek has outdone even his fine Waterloo Diamonds book. In Seeing and Believing, he unites science, history, and philosophy in a very accessible and dramatic way. I would think anyone concerned with contemporary technology issues will want to devour this book, and that it would make a stellar holiday gift for any thinking person.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gem! 30 Nov 1998
By Katha Pollitt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Even if you know nothing about astronomy --even if you don't care about astronomy -- you will love this book. It is written so gracefully, so unpretentiously (no 'we are starstuff' bombast) and the story it tells is so intriguing, that even science-shy readers can enjoy -- and learn. (I know because I am one.) The book is very pretty ,too -- small and slender, and with a lovely cover. A perfect present.
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 lenses and a tube 21 Aug 2013
By Phil S. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Wow...some of those lights are actually ...other Earths? Galileo and his contemporaries opened up the door for people to confirm what they've read in scripture and to get, for the first time, perspective on *size* and *distance*.

Suddenly the moon had a very "lined" countenance and Mars was a different color from the moon. And the starry backdrop begged the question: does intensity of light betray closeness?

Hubble is the new "basic" telescope. And we still can only see a tiny spec from which to guess on the size of this mess. If we can say there are an approximate umber of stars in this part of the picture, then what of *the* picture? And are there countless pictures?

Read this poetic..but not *easy* book. Just like the early views into space - it requires reflection.
5.0 out of 5 stars Through a Glass Darkly 20 May 2013
By Brian d'Eon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
On first picking up this book, I expected it might be a dry, technical read--even for me, a lifelong amateur astronomer who has some familiarity with telescopes.

But Panek is interested not so much in the telescope as a piece of technology as in how, at certain moments in history, it has transformed the way our species saw its place in the universe.

Today we don't think twice about using scientific instruments to extend our physical senses. In 1609, as Galileo first turned his telescope to the heavens, such an experience was almost unknown. Not only did a telescope make known things--like ships--appear bigger, but it brought into view things which were previously unknown: spots on the sun, mountains on the moon, thousands of never before seen stars in the Milky Way and four moons orbiting Jupiter. Was this just a trick of the instrument? Was the ambitious and disdainful Galileo deceiving them?

It was a huge conceptual leap for the average citizen of the 17th century to make: that the nature of the universe could be unraveled by means other than logic, traditional knowledge and the unaided human senses. Indeed many considered as sacrilege the notion that mere mortals could, by technological means, peer deeply into God's plan.

Panek relates with flair the contributions of many great astronomers and observers after Galileo with a special emphasis on William Herschel and George Hale whose commitment to building the finest instruments possible did so much to advance astronomy.

A favorite part of the book is when Panek tells of the introduction of photography to astronomy. Suddenly mankind needed no longer to be reliant on individual observers who, being human, could make mistakes, e.g. Percival Lowell's Martian canals. Instead, photos allow a permanent record to be made and kept for later, careful study. Still, many astronomers of the time were skeptical. As stubborn as any 17th century clerics, many regarded photographic astronomy as a fad; they insisted that any `real' astronomy still needed to be done via an observer looking through a lens. (The notion that mankind is centre of all things persists throughout the ages.)

Panek's Seeing and Believing is beautifully written and exquisitely researched. It brought me to a new and deeper appreciation of how mankind has learned to see and the difficult and sometimes painful journey towards believing.
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