Forbes, George History of Astronomy

ISBN 13: 9780217003308

History of Astronomy

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9780217003308: History of Astronomy

This historic book may have numerous typos and missing text. Purchasers can download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. Not indexed. Not illustrated. 1909 edition. Excerpt: ...medium in space, and there may be electric and magnetic forces to deal with. There may, further, be cases where the effects of luminous radiative repulsion become apparent, and also Crookes's vacuum-effects described as "radiant matter." Nor is it quite certain that Laplace's proofs of the instantaneous propagation of gravity are final. And in the future, as in the past, Tycho Brahe's dictum must be maintained, that all theory shall be preceded by accurate observations. It is the pride of astronomers that their science stands above all others in the accuracy of the facts observed, as well as in the rigid logic of the mathematics used for interpreting these facts. It is interesting to trace historically the invention of those instruments of precision which have led to this result, and, without entering on the details required in a practical handbook, to note the guiding principles of construction in different ages. It is very probable that the Chaldasns may have made spheres, like the armillary sphere, for representing the poles of the heavens; and with rings to show the ecliptic and zodiac, as well as the equinoctial and solstitial colures; but we have no record. We only know that the tower of Belus, on an eminence, was their observatory. We have, however, distinct records of two such spheres used by the Chinese about 2500 B.C. Gnomons, or some kind of sundial, were used by the Egyptians and others; and many of the ancient nations measured the obliquity of the ecliptic by the shadows of a vertical column in summer and winter. The natural horizon was the only instrument of precision used by those who determined star positions by the directions of their risings and settings; while in those days the clepsydra, or waterclock, was the best instrument...

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