Sources and Studies in the History of Mathematics and Physical Sciences

Ancient Astronomical Observations and the Study of the Moon’s Motion (1691-1757)

Authors: Steele, John M.

  • Presents a detailed study of previously unexplored aspect of the history of astronomy
  • The study makes extensive use of previously unpublished and unstudied manuscript material
  • The work of eighteenth century lunar theory is place in a broader cultural context​
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About this book

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.

Table of contents (9 chapters)

  • Introduction

    Steele, John M.

    Pages 1-10

  • Edmond Halley’s Discovery of the Secular Acceleration of the Moon

    Steele, John M.

    Pages 11-21

  • A Forgotten Episode in the History of the Secular Acceleration: William Whiston, Arthur Ashley Sykes and the Eclipse of Phlegon

    Steele, John M.

    Pages 23-36

  • The Gradual Acceptance of the Existence of the Secular Acceleration During the 1740s

    Steele, John M.

    Pages 37-41

  • Eighteenth-Century Views of Ancient Astronomy

    Steele, John M.

    Pages 43-72

Buy this book

eBook $109.00
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-1-4614-2149-8
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $139.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-1-4614-2148-1
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Rent the ebook  
  • Rental duration: 1 or 6 month
  • low-cost access
  • online reader with highlighting and note-making option
  • can be used across all devices
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Ancient Astronomical Observations and the Study of the Moon’s Motion (1691-1757)
Authors
Series Title
Sources and Studies in the History of Mathematics and Physical Sciences
Copyright
2012
Publisher
Springer-Verlag New York
Copyright Holder
Springer Science+Business Media, LLC
eBook ISBN
978-1-4614-2149-8
DOI
10.1007/978-1-4614-2149-8
Hardcover ISBN
978-1-4614-2148-1
Series ISSN
2196-8810
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XIV, 158
Topics