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Traces the development of the Late Babylonians' ingenious schemes for modelling planetary motion. This work reveals how medieval Islamic advances in the study of the heavens, and the design of precise astronomical instruments, led to breakthroughs by Renaissance practitioners such as Copernicus and Kepler.
The discovery of a gradual acceleration in the moon's mean motion by Edmond Halley in the last decade of the seventeenth century led to a revival of interest in reports of astronomical observations from antiquity.
Dates form the backbone of written history. But where do these dates come from? Many different calendars were used in the ancient world.
This revealing work examines an approach from ancient astronomy to what was then a particularly important question, namely that of understanding the relationship between the position in the ecliptic and the time it takes for a fixed-length of the ecliptic beginning at that point to rise above the eastern horizon. Schemes known as "e;rising time schemes"e; were used to give lengths of the celestial equator corresponding to each of the twelve zodiacal signs which make up the ecliptic. This book investigates the earliest known examples of these schemes which come from Babylonia and date to the mid to late first millennium BC. Making an important contribution to our knowledge of astronomy in the ancient world, this volume includes editions and translations of all of the known Babylonian rising time texts, including several texts that are identified for the first time. Through a close examination of the preserved texts it has been possible to reconstruct the complete Babylonian rising time scheme. This reconstruction is unprecedented in its completeness, and it is also now possible to situate the scheme within a genre of Babylonian astronomy known as schematic astronomy which presents theoretical descriptions of the astronomical phenomena. The unique discoveries and fresh explorations in this book will be of interest to historians of ancient astronomy, scholars of Babylonian history and those investigating the origins of scientific thought.
The discovery of a gradual acceleration in the moon's mean motion by Edmond Halley in the last decade of the seventeenth century led to a revival of interest in reports of astronomical observations from antiquity. These observations provided the only means to study the moon's 'secular acceleration', as this newly-discovered acceleration became known. This book contains the first detailed study of the use of ancient and medieval astronomical observations in order to investigate the moon's secular acceleration from its discovery by Halley to the establishment of the magnitude of the acceleration by Richard Dunthorne, Tobias Mayer and Jerome Lalande in the 1740s and 1750s. Making extensive use of previously unstudied manuscripts, this work shows how different astronomers used the same small body of preserved ancient observations in different ways in their work on the secular acceleration. In addition, this work looks at the wider context of the study of the moon's secular acceleration, including its use in debates of biblical chronology, whether the heavens were made up of aether, and the use of astronomy in determining geographical longitude. It also discusses wider issues of the perceptions and knowledge of ancient and medieval astronomy in the early-modern period. This book will be of interest to historians of astronomy, astronomers and historians of the ancient world.
The Middle East is the birthplace of astronomy and the centre for its development during the medieval period. In this brief introduction John Steele offers an intriguing insight into Middle Eastern achievements in astronomy and their profound influence on the rest of the world. Amongst other things, the book traces the Late Babylonians' ingenious schemes for modelling planetary motion. It also reveals how medieval Islamic advances in the study of the heavens, and the design of precise astronomical instruments, led to breakthroughs by Renaissance practitioners such as Copernicus and Kepler. An invaluable introduction to one of the oldest sciences in the world.