History of Astronomy by George Forbes Download (read online) free eBook (PDF ePub Kindle)

History of Astronomy

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    Nathan Jerpe

    Mar 15, 2013

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    Shelves:
    science,
    astronomy

    Interesting little book I downloaded from Gutenberg covering the history of astronomy up to 1909 or so.

    Of course the two pillars of modern physics, quantum mechanics & relativity, are absent, and this makes for some fascinating differences in perspective. Newton and his Laws of Gravitation are held as unassailable. The greatest “modern” advances are held to be the invention of the spectroscope (with Frauenhofer’s emission lines) and photography as we know it today. I find it interesting tha

    Of course the two pillars of modern physics, quantum mechanics & relativity, are absent, and this makes for some fascinating differences in perspective. Newton and his Laws of Gravitation are held as unassailable. The greatest “modern” advances are held to be the invention of the spectroscope (with Frauenhofer’s emission lines) and photography as we know it today. I find it interesting that these are observational rather than theoretical advances. Some of the passages concerned with solar photography are full of a wonder we would be hard-pressed to feel for the subject today.

    Forbes divides astronomy into three epochs. The first is geometric, in which the heavens are considered as a problem of shapes and epicycles, and circular motion becomes almost an object of worship. The second age is ushered in by Kepler and Newton and is considered dynamic. The third is the ‘physical’ age and concerns the measurement and detailed mapping of celestial objects. This age is the fruit of modern chemistry and the aforementioned advances in photography and spectroscopy.

    The sections on Mars also deserve a mention; here we are, with what is essentially a science textbook and yet there are discussions about life on Mars that sound straight out of an H.G. Wells novel. I wonder what bizarre passages we will find in today’s science textbooks, a mere century from now?

    …more