The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries marked a fundamental shift in the ways in which people understood the universe and their place within it. For most of the sixteenth century, the received idea was that the Earth stood in the centre of the universe. By the seventeenth century, extraordinary scientific discoveries and innovations had turned everything upside down, radically displacing the Earth and revealing that in fact the Earth and other planets circled the Sun, and the moon orbited the Earth.
Natural philosophers such as Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler and Newton gave us new ways to look at the universe, and to measure it, in a constant search for cosmological knowledge. In the process, they pioneered the mathematical techniques, the tools and the telescopes that underpin our astronomical knowledge today. This radical world-view offered a new imaginative landscape – at once thrilling and terrifying – through which to think about human realities as well as cosmological movements.