Article ID: CBB001213502

Auflösung der Nebel---Leben in Sicht! (2013)


Mirwald, Benjamin (Author)

Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte
Volume: 36, no. 4
Issue: 4
Pages: 334-353

Publication Date: 2013
Edition Details: Part of a special issue, “Bildtatsachen. Visuelle Praktiken der Wissenschaften”
Language: German

Resolving Nebulae -- Life in Sight! While in the second half of the 19th century astrospectroscopy and -photography had contoured new objects of investigation like nebulae, the debate among astronomers about extraterrestrial life intensified. Images did not only play a key role in uprising popular astronomical magazines at that time, they also served as arguments or even as evidence in controversial debates about the nature of nebulae or of planets' surfaces. These debates were not restricted to academic astronomers, on the contrary, amateurs and popularisers were among the most active disputants. Photos and images published in popular magazines were more intensively retouched or manipulated than when they were used in academic communication about astronomy. But the practices of interpretation and speculation, based on drawings and images, stemmed from academic communities. Far reaching conclusions relying on unclear features of astronomical pictures, like in the case of Martian canals, have not only been criticised by other academics. History shows that the ability to scrutinise imaginations about evidence of life in space or about the forming of the solar system was due more to tacitly knowing how images were produced than to having an encyclopaedic recall in astronomy.


Description On the study and manipulation of astronomical images in 19th-century debates about possible life on other worlds in both the popular and scientific press.

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Article Heumann, Ina; Hüntelmann, Axel C. (2013) Einleitung: Bildtatsachen. Visuelle Praktiken der Wissenschaften. Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte (pp. 283-293). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Nasim, Omar W.
Hentschel, Klaus
Gamble, Susan
Kessler, Elizabeth A.
Hackmann, Willem D.
Hoffman, Christopher R.
Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage
Nuncius: Annali di Storia della Scienza
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte
Bulletin of the Scientific Instrument Society
University of Pittsburgh Press
Oxford University Press
University of Chicago Press
Pickering & Chatto
Visual representation; visual communication
Galaxies; nebulae
Scientific illustration
Communication of scientific ideas
Lippmann, Gabriel
Smyth, Charles Piazzi
Rowland, Henry Augustus
Lardner, Dionysius
Flammarion, Camille
Whewell, William
Great Britain
Paris (France)
United States
19th century
20th century
18th century
21st century
20th century, late
Royal Society of London

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