By Sir Robert Wilson
From an old standpoint, this article provides a wholly non- mathematical creation to astronomy from the 1st endeavours of the ancients to the present advancements in learn enabled by means of innovative technological advances. freed from arithmetic and complicated graphs, the booklet however explains deep suggestions of area and time, of relativity and quantum mechanics, and of foundation and nature of the universe. It conveys not just the intrinsic fascination of the topic, but in addition the human facet and the medical process as practised by means of Kepler, outlined and elucidated through Galileo, after which proven by way of Newton.
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The stars, at the boundary of the Universe, were quite different; they were fixed, unchanging, divine and eternal, a view held by Plato, which clearly influenced Aristotle. The stars therefore had to be made of something quite different to anything existing on Earth and he proposed that they were made by a sublime element, ether, which had the property of self-luminescence, thereby explaining the light emission from them. His creation of this fifth element is the origin from which the word quintessence derives.
No such decline occurred in the astronomical and cultural activities in the Indian and Chinese civilizations. They had developed calendars and, having measured the solar year, could keep them in phase with the seasons. Astronomical observations were conducted largely for astrological reasons; in China, astrology was based on unpredicted celestial changes, such as comets, eclipses, aurorae and new stars, all of which were supposed to herald major human events, usually catastrophic. Chinese observers were therefore attuned to such changes and, of particular note, led to their recording the appearance of the new star of AD 1054, enabling modern astronomers to accurately date the supernova that caused the Crab nebula, an object of intense recent study.
In the ninth century, a brilliant astronomer, Muhammad al-Battani, significantly improved the Ptolemaic model, mainly by determining the orbit of the Sun against the fixed stars much more accurately than Ptolemy had managed. This enabled him to construct his own astronomical tables, which formed the greatest astronomical work since the Almagest and which they were ultimately to replace. Via Spain, the periphery of the Muslim empire, a Latin translation reached mediaeval Europe, where it was printed extensively and used by Copernicus, who referenced it several times in his great work On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Bodies.
Astronomy Through the Ages by Sir Robert Wilson