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Eighteenth-Century Views of Ancient Astronomy

  • John M. SteeleEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Sources and Studies in the History of Mathematics and Physical Sciences book series (SHMP)

Abstract

By the end of the 1740s the existence of the moon’s secular acceleration was widely accepted among astronomers. The magnitude of the acceleration, however, remained unknown, excepting William Whiston’s rushed and unjustified claim that it caused of correction to the time of an eclipse in the past, which increases at rate of 1 minute in 54 years. Between 1749 and 1757 three attempts were made to determine the magnitude of the moon’s secular acceleration by Richard Dunthorne, Tobais Mayer, and Jérôme Lalande after which attention shifted to trying to account for the acceleration theoretically. Dunthorne, Mayer and Lalande’s study of the moon’s secular acceleration relied upon the interpretation and exploitation of ancient astronomical records. How to interpret ancient astronomical observations and which sources of ancient records could be relied upon had been a controversial issue since the Renaissance and would require Dunthorne, Mayer, and Lalande to make decisions that would have a direct impact upon their estimates of the size of the secular acceleration.

Keywords

Eighteenth Century Solar Eclipse Lunar Eclipse Eclipse Observation Latin Translation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian StudiesBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA

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