BooksHistory of Science

Cathedrals as Astronomical Instruments

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Science  17 Dec 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5448, pp. 2279-2280
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5448.2279

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The Sun in the Church Cathedrals as Solar Observatories. J. L. Heilbron. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1999. 376 pp. $35. ISBN 0-674-85433-0.

Heilbron blends discussions of astronomy, religious architecture, and Catholic history to demonstrate that the Church's efforts to establish an unquestionable date for Easter led to evidence on the geometry of the solar system that favored the ideas for which Galileo had been condemned.