Tuesday, October 1, 2013


I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.

John Burroughs

After honoring the great astronomers Galileo,  Caroline Herschel and Tyco Brahe I stepped back to look and realized that inadvertently I had also honored 3 of the 5 senses - touch, sight and smell.  It seemed silly to stop there - ignoring hearing and taste.

A logical selection for HEARING was Ptolomy who worked with the concept of Music of the Spheres first postulated by Pythagorus.  
The featured ear belongs to Lee Ptolomy Jackson, an artist and friend.  It resides on planet Earth which was then considered the center of the universe.  The other planets, the sun and the moon were each embedded in in their own sphere made of ether and rotating around the earth.  The layers were: Earth, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and then the firmament of stars and beyond that the crystalline Heaven.  
Ptolemy wrote an influential book called Harmonics that dealt with music theory and mathematical proportions.  He believed the same concept of harmonics was present in all things including the movements and relationships of the planets.  It is unclear as to whether this included actual sound or was simply mathematical theory.

TASTE was the greatest challenge to add to the sky.  I could not determine an astronomer who qualified to represent this sense.  Instead it falls to the 17th century French Benedictine monk Dom Perignon and a fictitious but incredibly appealing quote  attributed to him when he discovered champagne. 

 "Come quickly!  I am drinking the stars." 

Unfortunately he also did not invent the beverage.  That may have been an English man.   It is another charming falsehood.  I will replace this drawing with something more credible should a tasty astronomer be located.