By John M. Steele
The discovery of a gentle acceleration within the moon’s suggest movement via Edmond Halley within the final decade of the 17th century resulted in a revival of curiosity in reviews of astronomical observations from antiquity. those observations supplied the single capability to review the moon’s ‘secular acceleration’, as this newly-discovered acceleration turned recognized. This ebook includes the 1st precise research of using historical and medieval astronomical observations so that it will examine the moon’s secular acceleration from its discovery via Halley to the institution of the value of the acceleration through Richard Dunthorne, Tobias Mayer and Jérôme Lalande within the 1740s and 1750s. Making huge use of formerly unstudied manuscripts, this paintings indicates how diverse astronomers used an analogous small physique of preserved historic observations in numerous methods of their paintings at the secular acceleration. furthermore, this paintings appears on the wider context of the research of the moon’s secular acceleration, together with its use in debates of biblical chronology, no matter if the heavens have been made of æther, and using astronomy in selecting geographical longitude. It additionally discusses wider problems with the perceptions and information of old and medieval astronomy within the early-modern interval. This booklet could be of curiosity to historians of astronomy, astronomers and historians of the traditional world.
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Additional resources for Ancient Astronomical Observations and the Study of the Moon’s Motion (1691-1757)
Whiston’s final calculated time is very close to his earlier approximation of the ninth hour of the day, but somewhat earlier than that obtained by Halley and the other astronomers Sykes discussed. Whiston explains that this discrepancy is because he alone has made a correction for the moon’s acceleration: In Dr. Halley’s Calculation of the Eclipse A. D. 29. 31 He remarks concerning the secular acceleration that “This I have all along esteemed one of Dr. Halley’s greatest Discoveries in Astronomy” and quotes Halley’s announcement of his discovery in the Philosophical Transactions for 1695 and Newton’s remarks from the second edition of the Principia.
Vincent Wing, Streete’s biggest critic, gave a slightly better longitude for Alexandria (2h3¢ east of London) but a much worse longitude for Babylon (3h40¢ east of London) in his Astronomia Instaurata, p. 133 (Wing does not list Antioch, Aracta, or Rhodes in his table). 37 Although Halley is credited in the preface to the 2nd and 3rd editions of the Astronomical Carolina with revising some of the tables, it is not certain that the values given in the table of cities are due to Halley. The values are not identical with those given in Halley’s posthumous astronomical tables.
In 1714 Whiston and Humprey Ditton successfully petitioned Parliament to set up a prize for solving the problem of determining the longitude. Whiston proposed several solutions to the problem, some quite outlandish, but never succeeded in being awarded the prize. Whiston continued his scientific work until late in his life, never giving up on his hope of returning to an academic career and even considering applying for the position of Astronomer Royal on the death of Flamsteed until he heard that Halley had already been nominated.