By Steven Wepster

In the 18th century simply medical pursuits in addition to the sensible prerequisites of navigation stimulated the advance of recent theories and strategies to correctly describe celestial and lunar movement. Tobias Mayer, a German mathematician and astronomer, was once one of the so much impressive scientists of the time within the quarter of lunar theory.

"Between concept and Observations" provides an in depth and rigorous account of Tobias Mayer’s paintings; his recognized contribution is his vast set of lunar tables, that have been the main exact in their time. This booklet supplies an entire and actual account, to not be chanced on in different places within the literature, of Tobias Mayer's very important contributions to the examine of lunar motion.

The e-book highlights and examines 3 of Mayer's significant achievements:

- The computational scheme embodied in Mayer's lunar tables is tested and traced again to the scheme of Newton's 1702 lunar thought with its decidedly non-dynamical characteristics.

- Mayer's dynamical lunar idea is in comparison to Euler's paintings in celestial mechanics of an identical interval. facts is gifted refuting the generally held opinion that Mayer's lunar conception used to be easily a amendment of Euler's theory.

- Mayer's means of adjusting the coefficients of his lunar tables to slot an intensive choice of observational facts is tested intimately. the size of Mayer's attempt used to be unheard of and preceded the discovery of the least squares process by means of part a century.

This quantity is meant for historians of arithmetic and/or astronomy in addition to a person attracted to the old improvement of the speculation of lunar motion.

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Additional resources for Between Theory and Observations: Tobias Mayer's Explorations of Lunar Motion, 1751-1755

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36 Carsten Niebuhr was a talented student of Mayer’s. He went as a surveyor with a disastrous Danish expedition, planned by Michaelis, to Arabia Felix, and he was the only one to survive. The party travelled from Denmark to the Middle East by ship and Niebuhr performed his lunar distance trials underway. He transmitted the results of the sea trials by letter to Mayer. For further reading on this fascinating expedition, see Hansen (1964). Niebuhr’s reminiscences of his study period, recounted in various contributions to Von Zach’s Monatliche Korrespondenz, form a valuable source of information on Mayer.

7. 3, on time and calendar conventions, is of help to anyone who intends to work with the tables, but it is not important for an understanding of the later chapters or of the format. We will use the tables of the rede edition here, because these tables were more widely distributed and because they fit better than the kil version to the end result of Mayer’s lunar theory, which we encounter in Chaps. 5 and 7. 1 The last section of this chapter points out in what way the format of those two sets of tables differs.

See Forbes (1980, pp. 55, 56). The tables are Euler (1746). 8 See the aliases list in Appendix A. Mayer’s copy of Euler’s tables is in manuscript Cod. μ14 . 30 3 The Pioneer’s Work In the beginning of 1751, when he was still in Nuremberg, Mayer proudly announced to the astronomer Joseph Nicholas De l’Isle (1688–1768), with whom he was in regular correspondence, that he had produced new lunar tables of his own. He averred that these (alias kreek) were accurate to about 2 . 9 I have been unable to locate the kreek tables among Mayer’s manuscripts, nor even an indication of their provenance.

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