Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler: Redefining Our Place in the Universe | October 2 and 3, 2009

October 2 and 3, 2009
Herbst Theatre, San Francisco

Commemorating the 400th anniversary of modern astronomy and Galileo’s first use of the telescope in 1609.

For centuries, religious belief and philosophical reasoning had placed man and his earthly home at the center of the universe. Changing that deep-seated and psychologically compelling conviction took courage, persistence, and a dedication to new methods of scientific observation and measurement on the part of three provincial scholars from Toruń in Poland, Pisa in Italy, and Weil der Stadt in Germany. It also took more than 150 years of controversy and confrontation spanning most of the 16th and 17th centuries, from Copernicus’ life work first published as De revolutionibus orbium coelestium in 1543 to Newton’s Principia in 1687. Those years of controversy succeeded beyond belief, leading to today’s astronomical shifts in understanding an expanding universe that may contain millions of life-supporting planets in our galaxy alone.

Moderator: Alexander Zwissler
Executive Director, Chabot Space & Science Center, Oakland

Humanities West Board Fellow Dimitrios Latsis has archived selected program materials, including audio of lectures and performances if available, at the non-profit Internet Archive here.

Listen to audio from this program

Friday, October 2, 2009

8:00 pm until 10:15 pm

Introduction: 25th Anniversary Season (Patricia Lundberg) and Moderator Alexander Zwissler’s Overview of the Program

Keynote Address: The Copernican Revolution.
Roger Hahn (History, UC Berkeley).

Nothing was so bizarre and more contradictory to evidence in 16th century Christian Europe than removing man and the earth from its central position in the cosmos. Yet this was the revolution in thought that Copernicus initiated. How it happened and why it took another century and a half to be fully absorbed in Newton’s era is the amazing story to be told. The twists and turns will take us from Copernicus’ Poland to an island observatory in the Danish Sound where Tycho Brahe compiled data Kepler tested out to establish the elliptical orbits of planets; to Northern Italy where Galileo created a furor with Catholic authorities; and to Cambridge University where the reclusive Newton set forth the forces that held the new solar system together.

The Music of the Spheres.
Kip Cranna
(San Francisco Opera) discusses why star-gazers from Pythagoras to Kepler believed that mathematical laws producing musical harmony on earth also determine the movements of heavenly bodies, creating a universe ordered by a kind of celestial harmony.

The Star Dances.
Kathryn Roszak’s Danse Lumiere
. Introduced by Bethany Cobb (UC Berkeley).
An original choreography inspired by Kepler’s “Music of the Spheres.” The dances take inspiration from the latest star/planet mapping by astronomers at UC Berkeley. Music includes Holst’s “The Planets” for two pianos.


Redefining Our Place in the Universe. The Star Dances [Danse Lumiere]. Premier Performance: Choreography by Kathryn Roszak. A commissioned dance premiering at HW, with Hally Bellah-Guther, Rita Dantas Scott, Damon Mahoney, Lissa Resnick. The Star Dances take inspiration from Kepler’s “Music of the Spheres” and star/planet mapping by UC Berkeley astronomers. The elegant simplicity of Satie’s music creates an atmosphere for two and then three female dancers as the Three Graces, who echo the harmony of the spheres. Holst’s energetic two-piano version of “The Planets” provides a striking score for the more volatile activity of the stars. Computer models of colliding galaxies, unfolding anemones in space, provide inspiration for a duet.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

10:00 am until noon & 1:30 until 4:00 pm

Recap of Friday and Introduction of Saturday Program (Patricia Lundberg)

Galileo and the Telescope: The Instrument That Changed Astronomy.
Paula Findlen
(History, Stanford University).
In 1609 an Italian mathematics professor, Galileo Galilei, devised a telescope based on reports of a spyglass that could magnify things at a distance. He turned it on the heavens and saw things no one had ever seen before: the imperfections of the moon’s surface, the composition of the Milky Way, and the hitherto unknown satellites of Jupiter. Galileo’s report of these discoveries, the Sidereal Messenger (1610), became a landmark publication in the history of astronomy and made him one of the most important and ultimately controversial astronomers of his time. How did Galileo and his instrument change astronomy? What is the significance of his accomplishment at the distance of 400 years?

Galileo Meets Darwin: The Search for Life in the Universe.
Geoff Marcy
(Astronomy, UC Berkeley).
Science fiction assumes that our Milky Way Galaxy abounds with habitable planets populated by advanced civilizations engaged in interstellar commerce and conflict. Even Kepler wrote a science-fiction work about travelling in the solar system. Back in our real universe, Earth-like planets and alien life have proved elusive. Has science fiction led us astray? This year, astronomers launched the first searches for Earth-like worlds around other stars, using bizarre, extreme telescopes for the task. For the first time, these telescopes have fundamentally superseded Galileo’s historic little scope. A wild race for signs of inhabited worlds and extraterrestrial life is about to begin.

Performance: Copernicus Comments on Modern Astronomical Ideas

George Hammond (SF Attorney and Author) impersonates Copernicus, wryly commenting on the “hot ideas” of 21st Century cosmology, dismissing those that look like “yet another epicycle dead end” and passionately predicting those that will lead to the next Copernican Revolution.

Dark Energy and the Runaway Universe.
Alex Filippenko
(Astronomy, UC Berkeley). Observations of very distant exploding stars (supernovae) show that the expansion of the Universe is now speeding up, rather than slowing down as would be expected due to gravity. Other, completely independent data strongly support this amazing conclusion. Over the largest distances, our Universe seems to be dominated by a repulsive “dark energy,” stretching the very fabric of space itself faster and faster with time. The physical nature of dark energy is often considered to be the most important unsolved problem in physics; it probably provides clues to a unified quantum theory of gravity.

Panel Discussion with all presenters and written questions from the audience


Clifford (Kip) Cranna is Director of Musical Administration at San Francisco Opera, where he has been on the staff since 1979. He has served as vocal adjudicator for numerous groups including the Metropolitan Opera National Council. He holds a BA in choral conducting from the University of North Dakota and a PhD in musicology from Stanford University. For many years he was Program Editor and Lecturer for the Carmel Bach Festival. He lectures and writes frequently on music and teaches at the SF Conservatory of Music. He hosts the Opera Guild’s “Insight” panels and intermission features for the SF Opera radio broadcasts, and has been a Music Study Leader for Smithsonian Tours. He was named 2006 “Man of the Year” by Il Cenacolo, a SF men’s Italian cultural organization. In 2008 he was awarded the SF Opera Medal, the company’s highest honor.

Alex Filippenko received his PhD in Astronomy from Caltech in 1984 and joined the UC Berkeley faculty in 1986, where he is a leading authority on exploding stars, active galaxies, black holes, gamma-ray bursts, and cosmology. He has coauthored nearly 600 scientific publications, is one of the world’s most highly cited astronomers, and has won numerous prizes for his research, most recently the 2007 Gruber Cosmology Prize. He was the only person to be a member of both teams that discovered the accelerating expansion of the Universe, which was selected as the “Top Science Breakthrough of 1998” by the editors of Science. He has won the highest teaching awards at UC Berkeley, where students have voted him the “Best Professor” on campus six times. In 2006, he was named the Carnegie/CASE National Professor of the Year among doctoral institutions. The recipient of the 2004 Carl Sagan Prize for Science Popularization, he has appeared in numerous television documentaries, produced four astronomy video courses, and coauthored an award-winning textbook.

Paula Findlen is Professor and Chair of History; Co-Director of the Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies; Co-Director of the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology Program; all at Stanford University. Her interest lies in understanding the world of the Renaissance, with a particular focus on Italy. She is “fascinated by a society that made politics, economics and culture so important to its self-definition, and that obviously succeeded in all these endeavors for some time, as the legacy of such figures as Machiavelli and Leonardo suggests. Renaissance Italy, in short, is a historical laboratory for understanding the possibilities and the problems of an innovative society.” Some publications include “Historical Thought in the Renaissance,” in Companion to Historical Thought, ed. Lloyd Kramer and Sarah Maza (Blackwell, 2002); “Building the House of Knowledge: The Structures of Thought in Late Renaissance Europe,” in Tore Frangsmyr, ed.,The Structure of Knowledge: Classifications of Science and Learning since the Renaissance (Berkeley, 2001); (ed.) The Italian Renaissance: Essential Readings (Blackwell, 2002). “Men, Moments and Machines” special on the History Channel: “Galileo and the Sinful Spyglass.”

Roger Hahn is an emeritus professor of Graduate Studies in the History Department at UC Berkeley, where he has taught history of science to hundreds of students for over 45 years. At Berkeley he was Director of the Office for History of Science and Technology and has published widely on related cultural and scientific issues. He is the author of a biography of the mathematician and astronomer Laplace.Currently he is Vice-President of the Académie Internationale d’Histoire des Sciences. He was educated at Harvard University (AB and MAT), Cornell University (PhD), and at the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris. Roger and his wife have been long time supporters of Humanities West, and he has been Moderator as well as presenter for a number of Humanities West programs.

George Hammond is known to Humanities West audiences for his previous presentations on Mark Twain in 2005, Plato in 2006 as part of the Sicily seminar, and Pythagoras in 2008. George is a San Francisco corporate attorney who specializes in international mergers and acquisitions. He is also the author of four novels, a collection of short stories and six philosophical books on issues in rational idealism, theoretical physics, Plato’s theory, early Christianity, the Soviet Union, psychology and constitutional law. His indebtedness to Pythagorean thought is pithily expressed in the name of his website:

Geoffrey W. Marcy is a professor of astronomy at UC Berkeley and an adjunct professor of physics and astronomy at San Francisco State University. He is also the director of Berkeley’s “Center for Integrative Planetary Science,” a research unit that studies the formation, geophysics, chemistry and evolution of planets. Marcy’s research focuses on the detection of extrasolar planets and brown dwarfs. His team discovered the majority of the 350 known planets around other stars, including the first multiple-planet system, the first Saturn-mass planets, and the first Neptune-mass planet. His goal is to discover the first earth-like planets and to find other planetary systems like our own solar system. Marcy is the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Shaw Prize in 2005, Discovery Magazine’s Space Scientist of the Year in 2003, the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement, the Carl Sagan Award, the Beatrice Tinsley Prize, and the Henry Draper Medal from the National Academy of Sciences. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Kathryn Roszak is Artistic Director, Danse Lumiere. She previously created choreography to music based on star maps at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. Danse Lumiere (formerly Anima Mundi) was founded in 1995 and creates dance theater linking the arts, environment, and humanity. The company has collaborated with visual artists, composers, scientists, and writers. Recent productions have included writers Maxine Hong Kingston, Michael McClure, and Gary Snyder. The company has won many grants and awards, including from Laurance S. Rockefeller, Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation, Fleischhacker Foundation, Guzik Foundation, and Zellerbach Family Foundation. Danse Lumiere has been presented locally at Theater Artaud, Grace Cathedral, Cowell Theater, University of San Francisco, Yoshi’s Jazz House, Asian Art Museum, and in New York by La MaMa Theater. The company’s collaboration with mathematicians was presented by Copenhagen Cultural Festival in Denmark. The company was also invited to perform at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West and at Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

Kathryn Roszak trained on Ford Foundation Scholarships at Balanchine’s School of American Ballet in New York and at the SF Ballet School. She received her theater training with the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and with American Conservatory Theater’s MFA Program. She danced with the SF Opera Ballet and has choreographed and taught for the SF Opera Center and ACT. Her original choreography has won awards from the Carlisle Choreography Project and from the Djerassi Resident Artists’ Program. She writes on dance for Theater Bay Area Magazine and teaches for the Lines Ballet/Dominican University BFA in Dance Program and for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UC Berkeley.

Alexander Zwissler is Executive Director/ CEO of the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland California ( The Center, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is an interactive Science Center whose mission is to inspire and educate students of all ages about the Planet Earth and the Universe. Prior to Chabot, Zwissler was Executive Director of the Fort Mason Foundation in San Francisco from 1999 to 2006. Earlier, Zwissler had a 17-year career in the cable television and telecommunications industry. He was a Director of ComTel, the United Kingdom’s fourth largest cable television and Telephone Company, with responsibility for Internet products, interactive services and digital television. Previous positions include General Manager of Oxford Cable Ltd., Oxford, England, President of Ventura County Cablevision, President of Las Cruces TV Cable, and President of Concord TV Cable. The American companies were all divisions of Western Communications, the Cable Television arm of the SF Chronicle Publishing Company. Zwissler was born in Stuttgart Germany, moved to California with his family, and was raised in Oakland. There he attended public schools before earning a BA in Political Science, with Honors, at UC Berkeley. After graduating, Zwissler was a Postgraduate Research Fellow at the Centre for Mass Communication Research at the University of Leicester, England, conducting research on the development of international satellite broadcasting. Zwissler serves currently on the Board of Directors for the San Francisco Market Street Railway, Tau Kappa Epsilon at UC Berkeley, and the Non Profit Centers Network.  Zwissler has also served on the Boards of the Oxfordshire Foundation, the Conejo Future Foundation, the SF Business Arts Council, the National Park Service Friends Alliance and the American Southwest Theatre Company.

Resource Materials

Thomas S. Kuhn’s classic work, The Copernican Revolution: Planetary Astronomy in the Development of Western Thought (1957; currently in 24th printing; 297 pp) recreates the historical context within which new astronomical concepts and observations battled for acceptance, eventually changing the way man perceived his place in the universe. Owen Gingerich takes an unusual approach in The Book Nobody Read: Chasing the Revolutions of Nicolaus Copernicus (2004, 306 pp). He tracks down and physically examines the earliest copies of the book that started it all, Copernicus’ De Revolutionibus, to determine who read the book and how they reacted to its ideas (as revealed in marginal notes and comments). Dava Sobel’s popular Galileo’s Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love (1999, 420 pp; also available as audiobook) uses the surviving letters of his oldest child to create a more personal perspective on Galileo’s life and work. There are also two good PBS specials relevant to our program: Galileo’s Battle for the Heavens (Nova, 2002, 120 min.) and 400 Years of the Telescope (2009, 60 min.), both readily available from Netflix. PBS has also created a web site to provide additional educational materials related to its Galileo program.

Please contact Humanities West by email for a special study guide/reader, available only to ticket holders. (Delivered as a PDF document.)

Selected Resources

“. . . a majority of people in the United States still do not accept the validity of evolution.”Copernicus, Gaileo and Kepler in Context (pdf document)

Print resources:

Asimov, Isaac. Asimov’s Chronology of Science and Discovery, updated edition. San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1994.

Boss, Alan. The Crowded Universe: The Search for Living Planets. Basic Books, 2009.

Connor, James A. Kepler’s Witch: An Astronomer’s Discovery of Cosmic Order Amid Religious War, Political Intrigue, and the Heresy Trial of His Mother. San Francisco: Harper, 2004.

DeGrasse Tyson, Neil. Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries. W.W. Norton & Co., 2007.

Drake, Stillman. Galileo. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Evans, James. The History and Practice of Ancient Astronomy.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Ferguson, Kitty. The Nobleman and His Housedog: Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler: The Strange Partnership That Revolutionized Science. London: Review, 2002.

Ferris, Timothy. Coming of Age in the Milky Way. Simon and Schuster, 1998.

Ferris, Timothy. The Whole Shebang: A State-of-the-Universe(s) Report.  Simon and Schuster, 1998.

Pasachoff, Jay M. and Alexei V. Filippenko .The Cosmos: Astronomy In The New Millennium. Holt Rinehart & Winston , 2000.

Findlen, Paula. In the Shadow of Newton: Laura Bassi and Her World (under contract with Knopf/Vintage: expected completion in 2009).

Galilei, G. Sidereus nuncius, or Sidereal Messenger, translated with introduction by A. Van Helden.  Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 1989.

Gingerich, O. The Book Nobody Read: Chasing the Revolutions of Nicolaus Copernicus. New York: Walker Publishing, 2004.

Gingerich, Owen. The Eye of Heaven: Ptolemy, Copernicus, Kepler (Masters of Modern Physics). Melville, NY: American Institute of Physics, 1993.

Greene, Brian. The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory. Alfred Knopf, 2003.

Greene, Brian. The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality. Alfred Knopf, 2004.

Hall, A. Rupert.  From Galileo to Newton. Toronto: Dover Publishing Company, 1981.

Hahn, Roger. Pierre Simon Laplace, 1749-1827: A Determined Scientist. Harvard University Press: Cambridge, 2005.

Hawking, Steven.  A Brief History of Time. Bantam, 1998.

Hoskin, M. A. The Cambridge Illustrated History of Astronomy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Koestler, Arthur. The Sleepwalkers: A History of Man’s Changing Vision of the Universe. New York: Penguin, 1990.

Koestler. Arthur. The Watershed: A Biography of Johannes Kepler (Science Study Series). Garden City: Doubleday, 1985.

Kuhn, Thomas S. The Copernican Revolution: Planetary Astronomy in the Development of Western Thought. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985, 1992.

McCluskey, Stephen C. Astronomies and Cultures in Early Medieval Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Pedersen, Olaf. Early Physics and Astronomy: A Historical Introduction. revised edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Rees, Martin. Before the Beginning: Our Universe and Others. Basic Books, 2001.

Rees, Martin. Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape The Universe. Basic Books, 2001.

Seife, Charles. Alpha and Omega: The Search for the Beginning and End of the Universe. Doubleday, 2003.

Shapin, Steven. The Scientific Revolution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.

Singh, Simon. Big Bang: the Origin of the Universe. Harper Perennial, 2005.

Steinhardt, Paul J. and Neil Turok. Endless Universe: Beyond the Big Bang — Rewriting Cosmic History. Broadway, 2008.

Stephenson, Bruce. Kepler’s Physical Astronomy, Studies in the History of Mathematics and Physical Sciences. New York: Springer, 1987.

Susskind, Leonard. The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics. Black Bay Books, 2009.

Thorn, Kip. Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy. W.W. Norton & Co., 1995.

Van Helden, A. The Invention of the Telescope. Philadelphia, PA: American Philosophical Society, reprint 2008.

Westfall, Richard S. Never at Rest: A Biography of Isaac Newton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983.

Wolf, A. A History of Science, Technology and Philosophy in the 16th and 17th centuries. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1959.

Internet resources:

Binary Stars
Free astronomy software for Macintosh computers, complete with manuals, for teaching binary star concepts in the classroom or for personal use.

An interactive, Internet-based TV channel that has specials on human space flight, astronomy and the cosmos:

The Chabot Space and Science Center, located in the Oakland, has an excellent planetarium. This summer, 2009, the Chabot center will feature Maya Skies. Maya Skies will be a captivating bi-lingual full-dome digital planetarium show featuring the scientific achievements, and the cosmology, of the Maya. Using cutting-edge laser scanning, photography and computer technology the production will provide an immersive experience of unprecedented realism, and a story about real and mythical characters in the Maya world who practiced astronomy with precision and purpose.

Visit their website to garner a view from their web-cam, positioned atop a Mayan temple in the Yucatan, Mexico. The Chabot Center also offers, every Friday and Saturday night, Dinner, a Movie and the Universe, a unique program that features an immersive astronomer-led live, or prerecorded, presentation and digitally animated music show. In addition, Chabot has a remarkable set of telescopes, which include a modern 36” reflecting telescope and a 20” refractor commissioned in 1914. The observatory is open, free, to the public every Friday and Saturday night.

The Morrison Planetarium, located in the Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park, is the largest all-digital planetarium in the world. Programs combine traditional star shows with life “tours of the Universe,” NASA feeds as well as broadcasts from scientists in the field. features news, educational material and video feeds, as well as information on constellations, human exploration, cosmology and resources for educators. is an excellent site that includes news and events. It features information on stargazing, star-maps, constellations, human exploration, a guide to the solar system, cosmology, as well as resources for educators and a radio program, which can be accessed through their website.

Hubblesite is an excellent source for information, news, upcoming astronomy events, astronomers, cosmology human exploration, trivia and educational material.  It is especially useful as a resource for obtaining images. Particularly interesting can be seen here, here, here, here, here, here, andhere.

The Hubble Heritage project/ site is a rich source for images from the Hubble Telescope.

Some notable images are:
here, here, and here.

NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory is a telescope specially designed to detect X-ray emission from very hot regions of the Universe such as exploded stars, clusters of galaxies, and matter around black holes. The Smithsonian’s Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, MA, hosts the Chandra X-ray Center which operates the satellite, processes the data, and distributes it to scientists around the world for analysis. The Center maintains an extensive public web site about the science results and an education program. Their website is an excellent source for news and features information on human exploration, cosmology, space probes, galaxies, constellations, stars and nebulae, star lore, and a particularly useful site for obtaining images and educational material.

An Astronomy Calendar Free of Charge.

Astronomy picture of the Day provides an astronomy picture everyday that is accompanied by a brief description by an astronomer.

Excellent views of the Martian landscape.

The Kepler Mission: a search for inhabitable planets.

The American Astronomical Society

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

From Earth to the Universe Exhibition.

A free download, Starry Night Online is software that allows you to enter your zip code and the direction you’re facing, and will show you on the screen what stars and planets you should be seeing at that particular date and time of night. A similar application is available for the iPhone.

The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) — home of science program selection, grant administration, planning, scheduling, and public outreach activities for the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). STScI provides data archive and distribution for all of NASA’s optical/UV missions, including HST.

Time Magazine has several interesting, short programs on space and space exploration to coincide with the International Year of Astronomy available for viewing on their website.

In April 2009, the New York Times ran an article on Galileo, the Medici and the Age of Astronomy, an important exhibition that is currently at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia from April 4th-Sept. 7th, 2009.

The permanent home of the Galileo materials.

The Institute and Museum of the History of Science in Florence also has information on the Medicis and Science.

Galileo’s Vision by David Zax in the July 2009 Smithsonian Magazine.

Nova has put together an informative web page that offers information on Galileo. It includes a brief illustrated history of his life, a modern perspective on his accomplishments, a brief overview of the workings of his telescope, as well as interactive web experiments.

A two-hour documentary on Galileo from Nova, available from Google Video.

The Galileo Project: Rice University offers information on the life and work of Galileo.

Project Gutenberg offers the following books available for free download:

The Martyrs of Science, or, The Lives of Galileo, Tycho Brahe, and Kepler


Pleasures of the Telescope, an illustrated guide for amateur astronomers and popular description of the chief wonders of the heavens for general readers.

The Astronomy of Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ Chapter IV, describing (and imagining the details of) the meeting between Milton and Galileo, and also describes the latter’s use of anagrams in recording his discoveries.

Related Events

Humanities West Book Discussion

Kepler’s Witch: An Astronomer’s Discovery of Cosmic Order Amid Religious War, Political Intrigue, and the Heresy Trial of His Mother by James A. Connor

Monday, September 21, 2009
5:30 p.m
Commonwealth Club of San Francisco
595 Market Street, San Francisco

At the suggestion of several Humanities West fans, we have organized book discussions to be held regularly at the Commonwealth Club. We anticipate about 6 events a year, with the discussions facilitated by Humanities West volunteer Lynn Harris.

Our first discussion will provide valuable background to those who will attend Humanities West’s program, Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler: Redefining Our Place in the Universe to be held at the Herbst Theater on October 2nd and 3rd.

There will be no charge for these Humanities Book Discussions at the Commonwealth Club.

Creating Star Dances: Choreography and Astronomy Collaboration for the International Year of Astronomy

Lecture-Discussion with Bethany Cobb (UC Berkeley) and Kathryn Roszak (Danse Lumiere)

Thursday, September 24, 2009
5:30pm Reception, 6pm Lecture
Mechanics’ Institute
57 Post Street, San Francisco

FREE to Members of Mechanics’ Institute and Friends of Humanities West
$12 general public
Reservations: 415-393-0100 or email the Mechanics’ Institute.

Join astronomer Bethany Cobb and choreographer Kathryn Roszak for a presentation about their ongoing collaboration on dances based on star maps and colliding galaxies. These dances will be performed as part of Humanities West’s program, Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler: Redefining Our Place in the Universe at the Herbst Theatre, San Francisco, on October 2, 2009, and at the Lawrence Hall of Science, Berkeley, on December 12. Dr. Cobb will lecture on dynamic phenomena generated by gravity including the solar system, colliding galaxies and gamma-ray bursts; Roszak will speak about the creative process and her work with Cobb and other UC Berkeley scientists.

A Fireside Chat with George Hammond previewing Copernicus, Galileo and Kepler

Tuesday, September 29, 2009
7:00 pm
Orinda Library 26 Orinda Way, Orinda
Free to the general public

Join author/performer George Hammond for a Fireside Chat previewing the upcoming Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler: Redefining Our Place in the Universe, Humanities West’s two-day program of lectures, discussions, music and dance presentations celebrating the International Year of Astronomy in honor of the 400th anniversary of modern astronomy and Galileo’s first use of the telescope in 1609.

In Galileo’s Footsteps: Edwin Hubble and the Reshaping of Our Universe

Lecture-Discussion with Astronomer Bethany Cobb (UC Berkeley)

Thursday, October 1, 2009
5:30pm Reception, 6pm Lecture
The Gold Room, Commonwealth Club of San Francisco
595 Market Street, San Francisco

$15 general public; $8 Commonwealth Club members
For more information:
For reservations click here.

Join astronomer Bethany Cobb (UC Berkeley) for a lecture and discussion organized by the Humanities Member-Led Forum at the Commonwealth Club on the astronomical work of Edwin Hubble. 300 years after Galileo’s great discoveries, the true size and nature of the universe remained elusive. Using a 100-inch telescope at the Mount Wilson Observatory in California, Hubble not only resolved the “Great Debate” over the scale of the universe but also provided radical evidence that the universe is expanding.

Astronomy Salon at the Commonwealth Club

Continuing the conversation with a salon discussion.

Thursday, October 8, 2009
5:30pm Reception, 6pm Lecture
The Gold Room, Commonwealth Club of San Francisco
595 Market Street, San Francisco

$15 general public; $8 Commonwealth Club members
For more information:
For reservations click here.

Please join us to continue the discussion regarding matters related to the upcoming Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler: Redefining Our Place in the Universe, Humanities West’s two-day program of lectures, discussions, music and dance presentations celebrating the International Year of Astronomy in honor of the 400th anniversary of modern astronomy and Galileo’s first use of the telescope in 1609.