Michael Chriss
Michael Chriss

What do astronomy and the arts have to do with each other? That’s the topic to be explored in an Arizona Senior Academy lecture to be given at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday (March 19) in Academy Village.

Eight of the nine Greek muses deal with the arts – four kinds of poetry, history, dance, tragedy and comedy – but the ninth muse, Urania, is for astronomy.  She does not seem to fit with the others, but this is not so.  The delights of observing the night sky have long inspired artists, composers and poets.

To Shakespeare, nothing seemed so fine to swear by as the objects of the heavens.  The Moon is a perennial favorite in popular songs, and the solar system was the inspiration for Gustav Holst’s “The Planets.” Think of van Gogh’s painting, “Starry Night.”

From the music of the spheres of Pythagoras, to the pop tunes of the 1930s and ‘40s, and from the silver screen of Hollywood to the interstellar messages of Voyager 1 and 2, astronomer Michael Chriss takes us on a fascinating meandering through the world of the muses of art and science, drama and dance – and Broadway shows.

Chriss has spent a lifetime in teaching. Before he retired he was Adjunct Professor of Astronomy at San Francisco State University and Professor of Astronomy and Humanities at the College of San Mateo, where he had been teaching since 1966. He received his degrees in astronomy at the University of Arizona with further studies in History of Art and Science at UC Berkeley, Stanford and Oxford University. Since 1986, he has lectured about astronomy and other related topics on cruise ships.

Now he is back at the UA Steward Observatory, teaching students where he started his career in 1952 as a freshman majoring in astronomy.

Submitted by Drew Potter, Academy Village Volunteer

[box type=”info”] Interested in attending? Click here.[/box]
Astronomy and the Arts: Linked Since Antiquity: March 2014