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By John M. Steele

The discovery of a steady acceleration within the moon’s suggest movement by way of Edmond Halley within the final decade of the 17th century resulted in a revival of curiosity in studies of astronomical observations from antiquity. those observations supplied the single potential to check the moon’s ‘secular acceleration’, as this newly-discovered acceleration turned identified. This ebook comprises the 1st particular research of using old and medieval astronomical observations which will examine the moon’s secular acceleration from its discovery through Halley to the institution of the significance of the acceleration by way of Richard Dunthorne, Tobias Mayer and Jérôme Lalande within the 1740s and 1750s. Making vast use of formerly unstudied manuscripts, this paintings exhibits how various astronomers used an analogous small physique of preserved historical observations in several methods of their paintings at the secular acceleration. furthermore, this paintings seems on the wider context of the examine 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 picking out geographical longitude. It additionally discusses wider problems with the perceptions and data of old and medieval astronomy within the early-modern interval. This publication should be of curiosity to historians of astronomy, astronomers and historians of the traditional world.

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Extra resources for Ancient Astronomical Observations and the Study of the Moon’s Motion (1691-1757)

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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. Whiston’s reference to the necessity of making a correction to take into account the secular acceleration when calculating eclipses in antiquity was the first published attempt to make use of Halley’s discovery.

Sykes (London, 1733). In 1734 William Whiston published Six Dissertations dealing with biblical history and astronomical chronology. Tucked away in a long discussion of the calculation of ancient eclipses, Whiston referred to Halley’s discovery of the moon’s secular acceleration, remarking that “This I have all along esteemed one of Dr. Halley’s greatest Discoveries in Astronomy”,1 and provided an estimate of the correction to be applied to the calculation of the time of syzygy on account of the moon’s secular acceleration, the first correction for the secular acceleration to appear in print.

SYKES’S Defence of his Dissertation on the Eclipse mentioned by Phlegon”, Whiston began by explaining that the “Copernicus” allows only the approximate time of an ancient eclipse to be calculated: Since I published my Vindication of the Testimony of Phlegon, as relating to the supernatural Darkness and Earthquake at our Saviour’s Passion, the Publick has been made acquainted with three distinct accurate 20 Sykes, A Defence of the Dissertation on the Eclipse Mentioned by Phlegon, p. 4. Whiston, Six Dissertations, p.

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