The History of Astronomy: A Very Short Introduction

Paperback | June 11, 2003

byMichael Hoskin

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Astronomy, perhaps the first of the sciences, was already well developed by the time of Christ. Seventeen centuries later, after Newton showed that the movements of the planets could be explained in terms of gravitation, it became the paradigm for the mathematical sciences. In thenineteenth century the analysis of star-light allowed astrophysicists to determine both the chemical composition and the radial velocities of celestial bodies, while the development of photography enabled distant objects invisible to the human eye, to be studied and measured in comfort. Technicaldevelopments during and since the Second World War have greatly enlarged the scope of the science by permitting the study of radiation.This is a fascinating introduction to the history of Western astronomy, from prehistoric times to the origins of astrophysics in the mid-nineteenth century. Historical records are first found in Babylon and Egypt, and after two millennia the arithmetical astronomy of the Babylonians merged with theGreek geometrical approach to culminate in the Almagest of Ptolemy. This legacy was transmitted to the Latin West via Islam, and led to Copernicus's claim that the Earth is in motion. In justifying this Kepler converted astronomy into a branch of dynamics, leading to Newton's universal law ofgravity. The book concludes with eighteenth- and nineteenth-century applications of Newton's law, and the first explorations of the universe of stars.

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Astronomy, perhaps the first of the sciences, was already well developed by the time of Christ. Seventeen centuries later, after Newton showed that the movements of the planets could be explained in terms of gravitation, it became the paradigm for the mathematical sciences. In thenineteenth century the analysis of star-light allowed...

Michael Hoskin taught History of Astronomy at Cambridge University for thirty years and was head of the Department of History and Philosophy of Science. He is a Fellow of Churchill College and Emeritus Fellow of St Edmund's College, Cambridge. In 1970 he founded the Journal for the History of Astronomy, which he has edited ever since...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:136 pages, 6.85 × 4.37 × 0.33 inPublished:June 11, 2003Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0192803069

ISBN - 13:9780192803061

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Table of Contents

1. The Sky in Prehistory2. Astronomy in Antiquity3. Astronomy in Middle Ages4. Astronomy Transformed5. Astronomy in the Age of Newton6. Exploring the Universe of StarsEpilogueFurther Reading

Editorial Reviews

`Packed with information as it is, Hoskin's short introduction makes an astonishingly good read.'Curtis Wilson, JHA