By John M. Steele
The discovery of a steady acceleration within the moon’s suggest movement through Edmond Halley within the final decade of the 17th century resulted in a revival of curiosity in stories of astronomical observations from antiquity. those observations supplied the one capability to review the moon’s ‘secular acceleration’, as this newly-discovered acceleration grew to become recognized. This publication comprises the 1st unique learn of using historical and medieval astronomical observations as a way to examine the moon’s secular acceleration from its discovery by way of Halley to the institution of the value of the acceleration by means of Richard Dunthorne, Tobias Mayer and Jérôme Lalande within the 1740s and 1750s. Making vast use of formerly unstudied manuscripts, this paintings exhibits how diverse astronomers used an identical small physique of preserved historical observations in numerous methods of their paintings at the secular acceleration. additionally, this paintings seems to be 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 choosing geographical longitude. It additionally discusses wider problems with the perceptions and information of historical and medieval astronomy within the early-modern interval. This e-book should be of curiosity to historians of astronomy, astronomers and historians of the traditional world.
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Additional info for Ancient Astronomical Observations and the Study of the Moon’s Motion (1691-1757)
32 3 A Forgotten Episode in the History of the Secular Acceleration… I say earlier, because if the Moon’s mean Motion be accelerated since the ancient Eclipses, the Month is now shorter than it was in old Times; tho’ in a prodigiously small Degree; and so the same Number of Months reckoned backwards from our New and Full Moons including both our shorter and those longer Months, must reach higher from our Times, and imply the coming of Eclipses both of the Sun and Moon, to have been earlier than our Modern Astronomical Tables determine.
So far, Whiston has been working only with mean motion. In order to now obtain the time of true conjunction, Whiston calculates the true position of the sun and moon for the moment of mean conjunction using the tables on pages 6–34 of his Astronomical Lectures, and calculates the difference in longitude between the sun and the moon. The results of these calculations, which have been rounded to 5¢or 10¢, are given in the top of the right-hand column, 27 Whiston, Six Dissertations, p. 133. Whiston, Copernicus Explained, p.
Whiston published several works on questions of religion, focusing particularly on the question of prophecy and the revival of “Primitive Christianity” or the doctrines of the early Church. Whiston’s uncompromising views led in 1710 to his being expelled from Cambridge on account of his antitrinitarian preaching, following a bitter trial about which Whiston felt betrayed by his friends and the university. Whiston had to turn to public teaching in London to earn his living. In London Whiston set up the Society for Primitive Christianity and continued to publish voluminous works on the subject, including many studies and translations of relevant ancient authors (most significantly his translation of Josephus, which remained the standard translation until the late 1800s and is still in print today).