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A New Astronomy   By:

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A NEW ASTRONOMY BY DAVID TODD M.A., PH.D. Professor of Astronomy and Navigation and Director of the Observatory Amherst College Copyright, 1897 and 1906, by American Book Company NEW YORK  :  CINCINNATI  :  CHICAGO AMERICAN BOOK COMPANY `Contemplated as one grand whole, astronomy is the most beautiful monument of the human mind, the noblest record of its intelligence.'La Place To D. W. J. and A. C. J. in grateful memory of `Coronet' ys `The attempt to convey scientific conceptions, without the ap peal to observation, which can alone give such conceptions firm ness and reality, appears to me to be in direct antagonism to the fundamental principles of scientific education.'Huxley Preface Neglect hitherto of the availability of astronomy for a laboratory course has mainly led to the preparation of this New Astronomy. Written purely with a pedagogic purpose, insistence upon rightness of principles, no matter how simple, has everywhere been preferred to display of precision in result. To instance a single example: although the pupil's equipment be but a yardstick, a pinhole, and the `rule of three,' will he not reap greater benefit from measuring the sun for himself (page 230) than from learning mere detail of methods employed by astronomers in accurately measuring that luminary? Astronomy is preeminently a science of observation, and there is no suf ficient reason why it should not be so studied. Thereby will be fostered a habit of intellectual alertness which lets nothing slip. Sixteen years' experience in teaching the subject has taught me many lessons that I have endeavored to embody here. Earth, air, and water (merely material things) are always with us. We touch them, handle them, ascertain their properties, and experiment upon their relations. Plainly, in their study, laboratory courses are possible. So, too, is a laboratory course in astronomy, without actually journeying to the heavenly bodies; for light comes from them in decipherable messages, and geometric truth provides the interpretation. But the student should learn to connect fundamental principles of astronomy with tangible objects of the common sort, somewhat as in physics and chemistry; and I have aimed to indicate practically how teachers and pupils of moderate mechanical deftness can themselves make the apparatus requisite for illustrating many of these principles. All of it has been repeatedly constructed; and its use should pave the way to better equipment for more advanced study. Especial attention has been accorded the recommendations of `The Committee of Ten' on secondary school studies (1892); the specifications concerning astronomical instruction published by the Board of Regents of the state of New York (1895); and the Action of the Editorial Board of The Astrophysical Journal with regard to Standards in Astrophysics and Spec 3 4 troscopy (1896). In order to secure the fullest educational value, I have aimed to present astronomy, not as mere sequence of isolated and imperfectly connected facts, but as an inter related series of philosophic principles. The geometrical concept of the celestial sphere is strongly emphasized; also its relation to astronomical instruments. But even more important than geometry is the philosophical correlation of geometric systems. Ocean voyages being no longer uncommon, I have given rudimental principles of navigation in which astronomy is concerned. Few young students may ever see the inside of an observatory; but that is reason for their knowing about the instruments there, and prizing opportunities to visit such institutions. Everywhere has been kept in mind the importance of the student's thinking rather than memorizing. Mere memorizing should be rendered facile; in treating of the planets, I have therefore presented our knowledge of those bodies, not subdivided according to the planets themselves as usually, but according to especial elements and features... Continue reading book >>

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