John Wilkins and his Lunar Voyage of 1640
We tend to think that Interplanetary Flight, Life on Other Worlds, Exo-Planets, and World-Changing scientific discoveries, are things of the modern world. But no. They were being actively and openly discussed 400 years ago. It was the Revd Dr. John Wilkins, astronomer, scientific publicist, and leading founder of the Royal Society, who first took the new telescopic astronomy of Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo to the British public. 400 years old in 2014, Wilkins, indeed, qualifies as the true intellectual ancestor of the late Sir Patrick Moore. Yet Wilkins not only discussed extra-terrestrial beings, and technological marvels, but also proposed a mechanical 'Flying Chariot' in which to ascend to the moon. His genial disposition won him numerous friends, becoming Warden of Wadham College, Oxford, and dying in office as Bishop of Chester, in 1672.
About Allan Chapman
Allan Chapman is a historian of science at Oxford University with a special interest in the history of astronomy. He is the author of 11 books and over 120 journal articles, including England’s Leonardo: Robert Hooke and the seventeenth-century scientific revolution (Institute of Physics, 2005), Mary Somerville and the World of Science (Canopus, 2004), and The Victorian Amateur Astronomer (Wiley, 1998), all subjects of previous AstroFest talks. He has made several history of astronomy programmes for television. In 2004 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Central Lancashire for his work in the history of astronomy and in 2010 an honorary DSc by the University of Salford. His most recent book on science and religion, Slaying the Dragons: Destroying myths in the history of science and faith (Lion Hudson), was published in February 2013.