Eclipses have long been seen as important celestial phenomena, whether as omens affecting the future of kingdoms, or as useful astronomical events to help in deriving essential parameters for theories of the motion of the moon and sun. This is the first book to collect together all presently known records of timed eclipse observations and predictions from antiquity to the time of the invention of the telescope. In addition to cataloguing and assessing the accuracy of the various records, which come from regions as diverse as Ancient Mesopotamia, China, and Europe, the sources in which they are found are described in detail. Related questions such as what type of clocks were used to time the observations, how the eclipse predictions were made, and how these prediction schemes were derived from the available observations are also considered. The results of this investigation have important consequences for how we understand the relationship between observation and theory in early science and the role of astronomy in early cultures, and will be of interest to historians of science, astronomers, and ancient and medieval historians.
The Sun is nowadays observed using di?erent techniques that provide an almost instantaneous 3-D map of its structure. Of particular interest is the studyofthevariabilityinthesolaroutputproducedbythedissipationofm- netic energy on di?erent spatial and temporal scales – the so-called magnetic activity. The 11-year cycle is the main feature describing this phenomenon. Apart from its intrinsic scienti?c interest, this topic is worth studying because of the interaction of such processes with the terrestrial environment. A ?eet of space and ground-based observatories are currently monitoring the behaviour of our star on a daily basis. However, solar activity varies not only on this decadal time-scale, as has been attested mainly through two methods: (a) records of the number of sunspots observed on the solar surface from 1610, and (b) the records of 14 10 cosmogenic isotopes, such as Cand Be, measured in tree-rings and i- cores, respectively. The study of the long-term behaviour of solar activity may be comp- mented by the study of historical accounts describing phenomena directly or indirectly related to solar activity. Numerous scienti?c and non-scienti?c d- uments have reported these events and we can make use of them as a proxy of solar activity in past times.
The discovery of a gradual acceleration in the moon’s mean motion by Edmond Halley in the last decade of the seventeenth century led to a revival of interest in reports of astronomical observations from antiquity. These observations provided the only means to study the moon’s ‘secular acceleration’, as this newly-discovered acceleration became known. This book contains the first detailed study of the use of ancient and medieval astronomical observations in order to investigate the moon’s secular acceleration from its discovery by Halley to the establishment of the magnitude of the acceleration by Richard Dunthorne, Tobias Mayer and Jérôme Lalande in the 1740s and 1750s. Making extensive use of previously unstudied manuscripts, this work shows how different astronomers used the same small body of preserved ancient observations in different ways in their work on the secular acceleration. In addition, this work looks at the wider context of the study of the moon’s secular acceleration, including its use in debates of biblical chronology, whether the heavens were made up of æther, and the use of astronomy in determining geographical longitude. It also discusses wider issues of the perceptions and knowledge of ancient and medieval astronomy in the early-modern period. This book will be of interest to historians of astronomy, astronomers and historians of the ancient world.
Accounts of the seventeenth-century Jesuit Mission to China have often celebrated it as the great encounter of two civilizations. The Jesuits portrayed themselves as wise men from the West who used mathematics and science in service of their mission. Chinese literati-official Xu Guangqi (1562–1633), who collaborated with the Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci (1552–1610) to translate Euclid’s Elements into Chinese, reportedly recognized the superiority of Western mathematics and science and converted to Christianity. Most narratives relegate Xu and the Chinese to subsidiary roles as the Jesuits' translators, followers, and converts. Imagined Civilizations tells the story from the Chinese point of view. Using Chinese primary sources, Roger Hart focuses in particular on Xu, who was in a position of considerable power over Ricci. The result is a perspective startlingly different from that found in previous studies. Hart analyzes Chinese mathematical treatises of the period, revealing that Xu and his collaborators could not have believed their declaration of the superiority of Western mathematics. Imagined Civilizations explains how Xu’s West served as a crucial resource. While the Jesuits claimed Xu as a convert, he presented the Jesuits as men from afar who had traveled from the West to China to serve the emperor.
Long before astronomy was a science, humans used the stars to mark time, navigate, organize planting and dramatize myths. This encyclopaedia draws on archaeological evidence and oral traditions to reveal how prehistoric humans perceived the skies and celestial phenomena.
Historical accounts of successful laboratories often consist primarily of reminiscences by their directors and the eminent people who studied or worked in these laboratories. Such recollections customarily are delivered at the celebration of a milestone in the history of the laboratory, such as the institution's fiftieth or one hundredth anniversary. Three such accounts of the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge have been recorded. The first of these, A History of the Cavendish Laboratory, 1871-1910, was published in 1910 in honor of the twenty fifth anniversary of Joseph John Thomson's professorship there. The second, The Cavendish Laboratory, 1874-1974, was published in 1974 to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the Cavendish. The third, A Hundred Years and More of Cambridge Physics, is a short pamphlet, also published at the centennial of the 1 Cavendish. These accounts are filled with the names of great physicists (such as James Clerk Maxwell, Lord Rayleigh, J. J. Thomson, Ernest Rutherford, and William Lawrence Bragg), their glorious achievements (for example, the discoveries of the electron, the neutron, and DNA) and interesting anecdotes about how these achievements were reached. But surely a narrative that does justice to the history of a laboratory must recount more than past events. Such a narrative should describe a living entity and provide not only details of the laboratory's personnel, organization, tools, and tool kits, but should also explain how these components interacted within 2 their wider historical, cultural, and social contexts.
Dates form the backbone of written history. But where do these dates come from? Many different calendars were used in the ancient world. Some of these calendars were based upon observations or calculations of regular astronomical phenomena, such as the first sighting of the new moon crescent that defined the beginning of the month in many calendars, while others incorporated schematic simplifications of these phenomena, such as the 360-day year used in early Mesopotamian administrative practices in order to simplify accounting procedures. Historians frequently use handbooks and tables for converting dates in ancient calendars into the familiar BC/AD calendar that we use today. But very few historians understand how these tables have come about, or what assumptions have been made in their construction. The seven papers in this volume provide an answer to the question what do we know about the operation of calendars in the ancient world, and just as importantly how do we know it? Topics covered include the ancient and modern history of the Egyptian 365-day calendar, astronomical and administrative calendars in ancient Mesopotamia, and the development of astronomical calendars in ancient Greece. This book will be of interest to ancient historians, historians of science, astronomers who use early astronomical records, and anyone with an interest in calendars and their development.
The Middle East is the birthplace of astronomy and the centre for its development during the medieval period. In this brief introduction John Steele offers an intriguing insight into Middle Eastern achievements in astronomy and their profound influence on the rest of the world. Amongst other things, the book traces the Late Babylonians' ingenious schemes for modelling planetary motion. It also reveals how medieval Islamic advances in the study of the heavens, and the design of precise astronomical instruments, led to breakthroughs by Renaissance practitioners such as Copernicus and Kepler. An invaluable introduction to one of the oldest sciences in the world.
Books recommended for undergraduate and college libraries listed by Library of Congress Classification Numbers.
This revealing work examines an approach from ancient astronomy to what was then a particularly important question, namely that of understanding the relationship between the position in the ecliptic and the time it takes for a fixed-length of the ecliptic beginning at that point to rise above the eastern horizon. Schemes known as “rising time schemes” were used to give lengths of the celestial equator corresponding to each of the twelve zodiacal signs which make up the ecliptic. This book investigates the earliest known examples of these schemes which come from Babylonia and date to the mid to late first millennium BC. Making an important contribution to our knowledge of astronomy in the ancient world, this volume includes editions and translations of all of the known Babylonian rising time texts, including several texts that are identified for the first time. Through a close examination of the preserved texts it has been possible to reconstruct the complete Babylonian rising time scheme. This reconstruction is unprecedented in its completeness, and it is also now possible to situate the scheme within a genre of Babylonian astronomy known as schematic astronomy which presents theoretical descriptions of the astronomical phenomena. The unique discoveries and fresh explorations in this book will be of interest to historians of ancient astronomy, scholars of Babylonian history and those investigating the origins of scientific thought.
Keine wissenschaftliche Theorie ist auf solche Faszination auch außerhalb der Wissenschaft gestoßen wie die Allgemeine Relativitätstheorie von Albert Einstein, und keine wurde so nachdrücklich mit den Mitteln der modernen Physik überprüft. Wie hat sie diesen Test mit Raumsonden, Radioastronomie, Atomuhren und Supercomputern standgehalten? Hatte Einstein recht? Mit der Autorität des Fachmanns und dem Flair des unvoreingenommenen Erzählers schildert Clifford Will die Menschen, Ideen und Maschinen hinter den Tests der allgemeinen Relativitätstheorie. Ohne Formeln und Fachjargon wird der leser mit Einsteins Gedanken vertraut und erfährt von der Bestätigung seiner Vorhersagen, angefangen bei der Lichtablenkung im Schwerefeld der Sonne 1919 bis zu den ausgefeilten Kreiselexperimenten auf dem Space Shuttle. Die Allgemeine Relativitätstheorie hat nich nur alle diese Tests bestanden, sie hat darüber hinaus wesentlich beigetragen zu unserem Verständnis von Phänomenen wie Pulsaren, Quasaren, Schwarzen Löchern und Gravitationslinsen. Dieses Buch erzählt lebendig und spannend die Geschichte einer der größten geistigen Leistungen unserer Zeit.
The earliest investigations that can be called scientific are concerned with the sky; they are the beginnings of astronomy. Many early civilizations produced astronomical texts, and several cultures that left no written records left monuments and artifacts - ranging from rock paintings to Stonehenge - that show a clear interest in astronomy. Civilizations in China, Mesopotamia, India, and Greece had highly developed astronomies, and the astronomy of the Mayas was by no means negligible. Greek astronomy, as developed by medieval Arab philosophers, evolved into the astronomy of Copernicus. This displaced the Earth from the stationary central position that almost all earlier astronomies had assumed. Soon thereafter, in the first decades of the seventeenth century, Kepler found the true shape of the planetary orbits and Galileo introduced the telescope for astronomical observations. This book covers the history of astronomy from its earliest beginnings to this point, which marks the beginning of modern instrumental and mathematical astronomy. The work of earlier astronomers, of all civilizations, remains as a triumph of the human intellect.