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Calder, Nigel

When astronomers express dissatisfaction with both the Big Bang and the Steady State concepts of the universe, they are in trouble, because it is hard to imagine radical alternatives.

The Violent Universe Chapter III (pp. 121-2)

Cunningham, Clifford J.

Today's astronomers live and die by journals and conferences.

Sky and Telescope The Baron and His Celestial Police (p. 271) Volume 75, Number 3, March 1988

Donne, John

If then th' Astronomers, whereas they spie A new-found Starre, their Opticks magnifie, How brave are those, who with their Engine, can Bring man to heaven, and heaven againe to man?

In Charles M. Coffin (ed.) The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose of John Donne To Mr Tilman After He Had Taken Orders

Friedman, Herbert

To the astronomer of today, probing ever deeper with mind and telescope, the universe is more than beautiful: it is amazing, violent, and endlessly mysterious. The revelations of recent research have been so dramatic and so extreme as to leave both scientists and laymen bewildered. Modern astronomy deals with the birth and death of stars; with exotic matter and fantastic energies; with near-infinities of space and time; with creation, evolution, and the ultimate destiny of the universe. As the sum of knowledge grows, the astronomer continues to seek answers to man's most profound questions: what is the grand design of the universe? How was it created? How did we get here? What are we? Are we alone?

The Amazing Universe Chapter 1 (p. 10)

Gibran, Kahlil

The astronomer may speak to you of his understanding of space, but he cannot give you his understanding.

The Prophet On Teaching (p. 56)

Grondal, Florence Armstrong

How thrilling to read of great hunts for treasure! Yet the pirates who dug their spades into the earthy loam never cached such jewels as are hidden along the dark slopes of the sky. Armed with a chart of the heavens, the fledgling astronomer prods about in the depths of the gloom, shovels the dark with the aid of his telescope, and discovers, even more surely than the pirate his chest, some wonderful treasure. Sometimes the find is a star-like diamond, a twinkling emerald, a fire-filled ruby or a cluster star gems of colorful hues, but it may be, too, a profusion of riches, heaped in a magnificence that leaves one breathless.

The Music of the Spheres Chapter I (p. 3)

Halley, Edmond

We therefore recommend again and again, to the curious investigators of the stars to whom, when our lives are over, these observations are entrusted, that they, mindful of our advice, apply themselves to the understanding of these observations vigorously. And for them we desire and pray for all good luck, especially that they not be deprived of this coveted spectacle by the unfortunate obscuration of cloudy heavens, and that the immensities of the celestial spheres, compelled to more precise boundaries, may at last yield to their glory and eternal fame.

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A Unique Method by Which the Parallax of the Sun, or its Distance from the Earth, may be Securely Determined by Means of Observing Venus Against the Sun (p. 460) Number 348, April, May, June, 1716

Herbert, George

The fleet Astronomer can bore, And thred the spheres with his quick-piercing mind: He views their stations, walks from dore to dore, Surveys, as if he had design'd

To make a purchase there: hee sees their dances,

And knoweth long before,

Both their full ey'd aspects, & secret glances.

Hoyle, Fred

The astronomer seems at first sight to be the most helpless of all scientists. He cannot experiment with the Universe. It is a significant matter of nomenclature that whereas we speak of experimental work in other sciences we speak of observational work in astronomy.

Frontiers of Astronomy Prologue (p. xv)

Jeans, Sir James

The task of the observational astronomer is to survey and explore the universe, and to describe and classify the various types of objects which it is constituted, discovering what law and order he may in their observed arrangement and behavior. But only the dullest of human minds can rest content with a mere catalogue of observed facts; an alert mind asks always for the why and the wherefore.

Astronomy and Cosmogony Chapter I (p. 1)

Jeffers, Robinson

The learned astronomer

Analyzing the light of most remote star-swirls

Has found them—or a trick of distance deludes his prism—

All at incredible speeds fleeing outward from ours.

The Selected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers Margrave

Jones, Sir Harold Spencer

The task of the astronomer is to learn what he can about the universe as he finds it. To endeavor to understand the purpose behind it and to explain why the universe is built as it is, rather than on some different pattern which might have accorded better with our expectations, is a more difficult task; for this the astronomer is no better qualified than anybody else.

Life On Other Worlds Chapter X (p. 253)

Keats, John

Then I felt like some watcher of the skies When a new planet swims into his keen.

The Complete Poetical Works of Keats On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer

Kuhnert, Franz

Probably another reason why many Europeans consider the Chinese such barbarians is on account of the support they give to their Astronomers— people regarded by our cultivated Western mortals as completely useless. Yet there they rank with Heads of Departments and Secretaries of State. What frightful barbarism!

In Joseph Needham Science and Civilisation in China Volume 3

Science and Civilisation in China (p. iii)

Mackay, Charles

Upon thy lofty tower,

0 lonely Sage, Reading at midnight hour Heaven's awful page!

The Collected Songs of Charles Mackay The Astronomer

Milton, John

Hereafter, when they come to model Heav'n And calculate the Starrs, how they will wield The mightie frame, how build, unbuild, contrive, To save appearances, how grid the Sphere With Centric and Eccentric scribl'd o'er, Cycle and Epicycle, Orb in Orb.

Paradise Lost Book VIII, L. 78

Mitchell, Maria

1 cannot expect to make astronomers, but I do expect that you will invigorate your minds by the effort at healthy modes of thinking.

In Phebe Mitchell Kendall Maria Mitchell: Life, Letters, and Journals Chapter VII (p. 138)

The Astronomer breaks up the starlight just as the geologist breaks up the rock with his hammer, and with similar results, he finds copper, sodium and other elements in sun and stars...If you look at the beautiful ribbon of colors which a ray of sunlight gives when passed through a prism, you see that it is crossed by dark bands, sometimes single, sometimes crowded close together—each of these is a black-lettered message from the sun.

In Helen Wright Sweeper in the Sky Chapter 10 (pp. 188-9)

Osiander, Andrew is the job of the astronomer to use painstaking and skilled observation in gathering together the history of the celestial movements, and then— since he cannot by any line of reasoning reach the true causes of these movements—to think up or construct whatever causes or hypotheses he pleases such that, by the assumptions of these causes, those same movements can be calculated from the principles of geometry for the past and for the future too. . .

In Nicholas Copernicus On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres


To the Reader Concerning the Hypothesis of this Work (p. 505)

Rees, Martin

Everything astronomers observe turns out to be a small and atypical fraction of what exists.

Before the Beginning Chapter 6 (p. 103)

Sayers, Dorothy L. Eustace, R.

The biologist can push it back to the original protist, and the chemist can push it back to the crystal, but none of them touch the real question of why or how the thing began at all. The astronomer goes back untold million of years and ends in gas and emptiness, and then the mathematician sweeps the whole cosmos into unreality and leaves one with mind as the only thing of which we have any immediate apprehension. Cogito ergo sum, ergo omnia esse videntur. All this bother, and we are no further than Descartes. Have you noticed that the astronomers and mathematicians are much the most cheerful people of the lot? I suppose that perpetually contemplating things on so vast a scale makes them feel either that it doesn't matter a hoot anyway, or that anything so large and elaborate must have some sense in it somewhere.

The Documents in the Case Letter 22, John Munting to Elizabeth Drake (p. 70)

Shakespeare, William

These earthly godfathers of heaven's lights, That give a name to every fixed star Have no more profit of their shining nights Than those that walk, and wot not what they are.

Stoll, Clifford

The astronomer's rule of thumb: if you don't write it down, it didn't happen.

The Cuckoo's Egg Chapter 5 (p. 28)

Thompson, Francis

Starry amorist, starward gone, Thou art—what thou didst gaze upon! Passed through thy golden garden's bars, Thou seest the Gardner of the Stars.

Complete Poetical Works of Francis Thompson A Dead Astronomer Stanza 1

Twain, Mark

I do not see how astronomers can help feeling exquisitely insignificant, for every new page of the Book of the Heavens they open reveals to them more & more that the world we are so proud of is to the universe of careering globes as is one mosquito to the winged & hoofed flocks & herds that darken the air & populate the plains & forests of all the earth. If you killed the mosquito, would it be missed? Verily, What is Man, that he should be considered of God?

The Mark Twain Papers Mark Twain's Letters Volume 4 1870-1871

Letter to Olivia L. Langdon (p. 12) 8 January 1870

For three hundred years now, the Christian astronomer has known that his Deity didn't make the stars in those tremendous six days; but the Christian astronomer doesn't enlarge upon that detail. Neither does the priest.

Letters from the Earth Letter III (p. 16)


Astronomers seem to be able to predict everything more and more precisely—except the end of the century.

Source unknown

Walcott, Derek

I try to forget what happiness was, and when that didn't work, I study the stars.

The Star-Apple Kingdom The Schooner Flight Section 11

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