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Great Astronomers

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By: (1840-1913)

Of all the natural sciences there is not one which offers such sublime objects to the attention of the inquirer as does the science of astronomy. From the earliest ages the study of the stars has exercised the same fascination as it possesses at the present day. Among the most primitive peoples, the movements of the sun, the moon, and the stars commanded attention from their supposed influence on human affairs.

From the days of Hipparchus down to the present hour the science of astronomy has steadily grown. One great observer after another has appeared from time to time, to reveal some new phenomenon with regard to the celestial bodies or their movements, while from time to time one commanding intellect after another has arisen to explain the true import of the facts of observations. The history of astronomy thus becomes inseparable from the history of the great men to whose labours its development is due. In the ensuing chapters we have endeavoured to sketch the lives and the work of the great philosophers, by whose labours the science of astronomy has been created. (from the Introduction)

First Page:

GREAT ASTRONOMERS

by

SIR ROBERT S. BALL D.Sc. LL.D. F.R.S.

Lowndean Professor of Astronomy and Geometry in the University of Cambridge

Author of "In Starry Realms" "In the High Heavens" etc.

WITH NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS

[PLATE: GREENWICH OBSERVATORY.]

PREFACE.

It has been my object in these pages to present the life of each astronomer in such detail as to enable the reader to realise in some degree the man's character and surroundings; and I have endeavoured to indicate as clearly as circumstances would permit the main features of the discoveries by which he has become known.

There are many types of astronomers from the stargazer who merely watches the heavens, to the abstract mathematician who merely works at his desk; it has, consequently, been necessary in the case of some lives to adopt a very different treatment from that which seemed suitable for others.

While the work was in progress, some of the sketches appeared in "Good Words." The chapter on Brinkley has been chiefly derived from an article on the "History of Dunsink Observatory," which was published on the occasion of the tercentenary celebration of the University of Dublin in 1892, and the life of Sir William Rowan Hamilton is taken, with a few alterations and omissions, from an article contributed to the "Quarterly Review" on Graves' life of the great mathematician... Continue reading book >>


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