Astrophysics and Space Science Library

Eclipses, Transits, and Comets of the Nineteenth Century

How America's Perception of the Skies Changed

Authors: Cottam, Stella, Orchiston, Wayne

  • Explains how astronomical events, such as comets, eclipses and planetary discoveries, in the late nineteenth century made astronomy much more popular with the general public and advancements in the science helped the United States emerge as a scientific power
  • Demonstrates the variety of means by which the non-professional was educated in scientific topics in the pre-technological age
  • Documents the long history of amateur astronomy in the US
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eBook $99.00
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-08341-4
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $129.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-3-319-08340-7
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover $129.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-3-319-37775-9
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
About this book

Grabbing the attention of poets, politicians and the general public alike, a series of spectacular astronomical events in the late 1800s galvanized Americans to take a greater interest in astronomy than ever before. At a time when the sciences were not yet as well established in the United States as they were in Europe, this public interest and support provided the growing scientific community in the United States with the platform they needed to advance the field of astronomy in the United States. Earlier in the 19th century comets, meteors and the discovery of the planet Neptune were all sources of inspiration to the general public. The specific events to be considered here are the total solar eclipses of 1868, 1869 and 1878 and the transits of Venus of 1874 and 1882. The available media responded to public interest as well as generating more interest. These events laid the groundwork that led to today's thriving network of American amateur astronomers and provide a fascinating look at earlier conceptions of the stars.

About the authors

Stella Cottam has B.S. degrees in physics and medical technology from Fordham University and the University of Nevada, respectively, an M.S. in library science from the University of Kentucky, a Master of Astronomy from the University of Western Sydney in Australia, and a Ph.D. through the Centre for Astronomy at James Cook University in Australia. Her thesis topic was “The Popularization of Astronomy in the United States of America Subsequent to the Transits of Venus of 1874 and 1882 and the Total Solar Eclipses of 1868, 1869 and 1878” and her supervisors were Wayne Orchiston and Richard Stephenson. She has worked as a microbiologist at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky (USA). Wayne Orchiston is an Associate Professor in the Center for Astronomy at James Cook University (Australia), where he supervises a large pool of off-campus Ph.D. students and carries out research on the history of Australian, English, French, Indian, New Zealand and U. S. astronomy. He also edits the Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage.

Reviews

“The authors focus on the total solar eclipses of 1868, 1869, and 1878 and the transits of Venus of 1874 and 1882, with shorter treatments of meteor showers and transits of Mercury. … This is a delighted volume to have and to hold, simply brimming with wonderful pictures of people, places, astronomical images and the beginning of spectroscopy, historical markers, and so forth.” (Virginia Trimble, The Observatory, Vol. 136 (1255), December, 2016)

“The book covers the growth of professional astronomy and the role of amateur astronomers in the popularization of astronomy in the United States. … If you are interested in the development of science and how the astronomical awareness of a continent developed from something ‘primarily for the vain art of astrology and for almanac production’ to having the huge number of amateur astronomers it has today then this book is for you.” (Steve Bell, The Observatory, Vol. 135 (1248), October, 2015)

“Cottam and Orchiston (both, National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand) have produced a dense book, based on Cottam’s 2011 dissertation, covering a bit over a century of American astronomy. … The book contains numerous illustrations and is well documented with 36 pages of references. Useful for history of astronomy collections and specialist audiences. Summing Up: Recommended. Researchers/faculty and professionals/practitioners.” (M.-K. Hemenway, Choice, Vol. 52 (8), April, 2015)

“This historical book by Cottam and Orchiston is fun to read and to look through. I can recommend it to all who like to know about eclipses, transits, or nineteenth century science in general, or who otherwise want something to tell them about the interactions of science with the public—or who just want an interesting book to read.” (Jay M. Pasachoff, Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage, Vol. 18 (1), 2015)


Table of contents (7 chapters)

  • Introduction

    Cottam, Stella (et al.)

    Pages 1-6

  • Historical Overview: The United States and Astronomy Until the 1860s

    Cottam, Stella (et al.)

    Pages 7-41

  • Scientific Overview

    Cottam, Stella (et al.)

    Pages 43-128

  • Popular Astronomy and the Solar Eclipses of 1868, 1869 and 1878

    Cottam, Stella (et al.)

    Pages 129-199

  • Popular Astronomy and the Transits of Venus of 1874 and 1882

    Cottam, Stella (et al.)

    Pages 201-254

Buy this book

eBook $99.00
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-08341-4
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $129.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-3-319-08340-7
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover $129.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-3-319-37775-9
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Eclipses, Transits, and Comets of the Nineteenth Century
Book Subtitle
How America's Perception of the Skies Changed
Authors
Series Title
Astrophysics and Space Science Library
Series Volume
406
Copyright
2015
Publisher
Springer International Publishing
Copyright Holder
Springer International Publishing Switzerland
eBook ISBN
978-3-319-08341-4
DOI
10.1007/978-3-319-08341-4
Hardcover ISBN
978-3-319-08340-7
Softcover ISBN
978-3-319-37775-9
Series ISSN
0067-0057
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XI, 336
Number of Illustrations and Tables
157 b/w illustrations, 83 illustrations in colour
Topics