From the reviews: “It’s rarely been my pleasure to read a book of such expansive, eloquent erudition. … illustrate the plethora of ways humans throughout history ‘responded to the sky’ – sometimes ‘with fear, sometimes with great artistry and other times with great rationality’. Indeed, some ancient responses seem remarkably prescient. … will fascinate everyone from the most hardened scientific materialist to astrologers to ancient astronaut advocates. … The Power of Stars is a fascinating testament to that endearing fascination. Very highly recommended.” (Mark Greener, Fortean Times, 2011) “Well worth a read for any astronomer – amateur or professional … . This is a really handsome book … . Colourful, educational, insightful and entertaining, it’s a veritable treasure chest of knowledge. Whether your interest is in looking at star charts and atlases from the comfort of your armchair, or standing in a dew-soaked field at dawn watching planets glowing above the eastern horizon before dawn, this is a book that really, really does need to be on your bookshelf as soon as possible.” (Cumbrian Sky, May, 2011) “The majority of topics are well arranged to survey how many different cultures over a wide stretch of world history have experienced the sky. … the text is clear and the numerous high-quality illustrations are appropriate. … excellent general reference to astronomy and its uses in ancient Babylon, China, Egypt, Greece, and the Australian bush, and by Native Americans and others. An excellent bibliography and index of figures are an added value. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates and general readers.” (M. K. Hemenway, Choice, Vol. 48 (9), May, 2011) “Bryan Penprase, the Frank P. Brackett Professor of Physics and Astronomy, gives a course on ‘Archaeoastronomy and world cosmology’. His lecture notes have been polished up to produce this textbook. … I greatly enjoyed reading Penprase’s book. It was a thought-provoking, incisive, world-encompassing, beautifully illustrated, and reasonably sceptical.” (David W. Hughes, The Observatory, Vol. 131 (1222), June, 2011)
From the Back Cover
What are some of the connections that bind us to the stars? How have these connections been established? And how have people all around the world and throughout time reacted to the night sky, the sun and moon, in their poetry, mythology, rituals, and temples? This book explores the influence of the sky on both ancient and modern civilization, by providing a clear overview of the many ways in which humans have used the stars as an ordering principle in their cultures, and which today still inspire us intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. The book explores constellation lore from around the world, celestial alignments of monuments and temples, both from ancient and modern civilizations, and the role the sky has played in the cultures of the Greek, Egyptian, Babylonian, Native American, Chinese, Mayan, Aztec, and Inca. Models of the universe from each of these cultures are described clearly, and each culture’s explanation of the stars, planets, and other celestial objects are described. The roots of astronomy and astrology are presented with original imagery and reproductions of ancient manuscripts that portray the structure of the physical universe as conceived by a diverse array of human cultures over the centuries. Our own scientific Big Bang cosmology and the origin of stars and elements are discussed in a philosophical context, to explore how we as modern people learn about the Universe, and incorporate the findings of science into our world views. A concluding chapter provides a summary of modern science's effort to unlock the celestial secrets from the sky and from past civilizations, and what these answers mean for us today.