Allan Chapman is a historian of science at Oxford University, with a special interest in the history of astronomy. He has written 13 books and numerous academic articles, and made several television programmes. He has received honorary doctorates and awards from the Universities of Central Lancashire, Salford, and Lancaster, and in 2015 was presented with the Jackson-Gwilt Medal by the Royal Astronomical Society. His latest books include Stargazers: Copernicus, Galileo, the Telescope, and the Church. The Astronomical Renaissance, 1500–1700 (Lion Hudson, 2014), a revised edition of The Victorian Amateur Astronomer: Independent Astronomical Research in Britain 1820-1920 (Gracewing, 2017), and Comets, Cosmology, and the Big Bang: A History of Astronomy from Edmond Halley to Edwin Hubble, 1700-2000 (Lion Hudson, 2018).
Comets, Cosmology, and the Big Bang: An Astronomical Odyssey across 300 years
Saturday 9th February 2019: Session 3
Between 1700 and 2000, the scale and scope of astronomy changed beyond recognition. Comets were shown to follow exact laws, the universe was revealed to be unbelievably vast and populated not just by stars but also by wispy nebulae, while a cascade of new technologies after 1850 – spectroscopy, photography, radio astronomy, space flight, the digital revolution – completely transformed our understanding. Yet this Odyssey was also a human one, involving a veritable galaxy of fascinating and colourful figures, including Edmond Halley, William and Caroline Herschel, Mary Somerville and other women scientists, Edwin Hubble, Father Georges Lemaître and his Big Bang, and Sir Patrick Moore, who took astronomy to millions of people.