Culture and Cosmos is a peer-reviewed academic journal in the history of astrology and cultural astronomy published by the Sophia Centre Press in partnership with the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture, Faculty of Humanitiies and the Performing Arts, at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David

We are currently seeking submissions for future volumes of Culture and Cosmos.

Volume 16

From Artilleryman to Head of State: How Astronomy Inspired François Arago

Paul Murdin


Francois Arago studied maths at the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris in order to be an artillery officer. His adventurous experiences with astronomy during what we would call a gap year in 1806-08 during the Napoleonic Wars inspired him into a scientific career in which he became the scientific director of the Paris Observatory and the Secretary of the Academie des Sciences. He introduced Foucault’s pendulum, leading to crowds of Parisians gawping at the rotation of the Earth and arranged for the French nation to buy Daguerre’s invention. He was briefly Head of State in 1848, a level attained by few other astronomers. I will outline his adventures and career as an exemplar of the inspiration of astronomy.

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