The Night Sky

  • Posted on 11th July 2016 by Alex

  • Greenwich and the Royal Observatory
    Greenwich in the daylight is a wonderful village on the edge of London and a stone’s throw by tube, train or boat. By night, the history and the association with the sky, the stellar system and the oceans really comes alive. Imagine the observatory on a cloudless night filled with astronomers trying to gain further understanding of the stars and other celestial bodies. There was a bona fide reason for this research. It was to aid sailors’ navigation using the stars’ alignment and ensuring they could work out their exact location just by having knowledge of the night sky. 
    This was an example of great advancement in mathematics, astronomy and science and yet how did this also influence our more romantic tendencies and desire for beautiful tales of love and heroism.  Maybe the more we use mathematics and logic to understand the world and the planetary system, the more we seem to bond with these bodies on all levels – metaphysical, mythical and emotional. 
    Science and the arts are not normally great bedfellows but it cannot be denied that without the advances of science we wouldn’t have some of our great works of fiction. These include Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or a later example would be Arthur Conan Doyle’s use of science to create Sherlock Holmes. The more advances we make in science the more it seems we look to a Romantic explanation or maybe knowing the science is in place helps us understand things more or just be more accepting. Maybe this is true of the myths and legends of Ancient Greece?
    Why were young aristocrats of the 18th and 19th century taught the Classics and why were they encouraged to read the great works of Greco-Roman philosophers and writers? Maybe the forefathers of these sons were hoping that the young Englishmen would display some of the brave and aristocratic tendencies of these ancient civilizations. And what not to like - the tales and stories of these epochs were rousing, romantic and reassuring – surely the three R’s of former times! 
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