Astronomy Through the Ages by Sir Robert Wilson

By Sir Robert Wilson

From an ancient standpoint, this article provides a completely non- mathematical creation to astronomy from the 1st endeavours of the ancients to the present advancements in learn enabled by way of innovative technological advances. freed from arithmetic and complicated graphs, the publication however explains deep thoughts of area and time, of relativity and quantum mechanics, and of starting place and nature of the universe. It conveys not just the intrinsic fascination of the topic, but additionally the human aspect and the clinical strategy as practised through Kepler, outlined and elucidated via Galileo, after which confirmed by way of Newton.

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But he was the one who documented them and he added his own distinctive ideas, which were based on a priori reasoning rather than experiment or observation. This approach was quite contrary to his studies in biology, which were dominated by observations; in his four principal writings on animals, he gave detailed descriptions of their structure and movement, and also placed them into classifications, the first attempt to do so. But in astronomy, his belief, derived from Plato, was that the power of the intellect was sufficient to determine the nature of the Universe and, if the logic was impeccable, what was the need for experimental test?

Simple geometry meant that the distance from Syene to Alexandria was one 50th of the Earth’s circumference. This gave the circumference to be 40000 kilometres, a remarkably accurate result. distance. No parallax could be detected, leading him to conclude that the size of the Universe (at that time the distance to the fixed, bright stars) was so great that, as he said, if you drew a very large circle, the Earth’s orbit would only appear as a point. The non-detection of stellar parallax, as Aristarchus realized, was attributable to the great distance of the stars.

The observations showed that the stars moved from east to west during the night and that new constellations would appear just before dawn (heliacal rising) and rise earlier and earlier each night until they passed over the whole sky, disappeared into daylight and reappeared in a heliacal rising one year later. The Sun, Moon and planets all had their individual periods of change, but, against the background of fixed stars, the motion of all of them was confined to the ecliptic plane—the band that carried the constellations of the zodiac.

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