Meeting Between the Celestial Spheres In Sicily, Italy

October 26, 2021


Photographer: Dario Giannobile, Orazio Mezzio

Summary Authors: Dario Giannobile, Orazio Mezzio; Cadan Cummings

The picture above symbolizes time and the advancement of astronomy through showing a diagram from an 18th century text in the foreground of the same starry sky that people centuries ago studied and learned the wonders of the cosmos. In ancient times, humans believed the Earth was at the center of the universe. After hundreds of years of observations, science reshaped this hypothesis into the heliocentric model. The illustration above from the book Elements of Experimental Physics by Giuseppe Saverio Poli with illustrations by Abbot Antonio Fabris and Vincenzo Dandalo demonstrates this notion as it shows the solar system at the center of the universe with the known planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus. Interestingly, Jupiter and Saturn both are observed to only have four and seven moons respectively, which has expanded today to each having over seventy moons. Another interesting detail is that Uranus, which was only discovered 12 years prior, is called with the name of its discoverer- Herschel- and is indicated with the letter H. Furthermore, the illustration shows the passage of three comets, at least two of which are recurring.

This photo is intended to be a connection between the reader of the text and the view of the night sky where, in addition to the Milky Way, we find on the left the planets Jupiter and Saturn. The location of this picture is the Anaktoron, the prince's palace, at the UNESCO site of Pantalica, where mythology becomes historical. The book is kept in the library of the convent of the Capuchin Friars of Sortino. A special thanks goes to Friar Matteo Pugliares for allowing us to keep the ancient artifact with reverential awe.

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