Synopses & Reviews
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 the Greek 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 of gravity. The book concludes with eighteenth- and nineteenth-century applications of Newton's law, and the first explorations of the universe of stars.
This is a short history of astronomy, from pre-historic times to the origins of astrophysics in the mid-19th century. Amongst other things, it traces the development of the heliocentric thesis, from Ptolemy and his influences to Copernicus, via Islam.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 111-113) and index.
About the Author
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. He is a former President of the History of Astronomy Commission of the International Astronomical Union, and the only historian to have given an Invited Discourse to the Union. In 2002 the Union named Minor Planet 12223 'Hoskin' in his honor.
Table of Contents
1. The Sky in Prehistory
2. Astronomy in Antiquity
3. Astronomy in Middle Ages
4. Astronomy Transformed
5. Astronomy in the Age of Newton
6. Exploring the Universe of Stars