The History and Practice of Ancient Astronomy

By James Evans

The historical past and perform of old Astronomy combines new scholarship with hands-on technology to deliver readers into direct touch with the paintings of historic astronomers. whereas tracing principles from historic Babylon to sixteenth-century Europe, the booklet locations its maximum emphasis at the Greek interval, whilst astronomers built the geometric and philosophical principles that experience made up our minds the next personality of Western astronomy. the writer ways this background during the concrete info of historical astronomical perform. rigorously equipped and generously illustrated, the ebook can train readers how you can do actual astronomy utilizing the tools of historical astronomers. for instance, readers will discover ways to expect the following retrograde movement of Jupiter utilizing both the arithmetical tools of the Babylonians or the geometric tools of Ptolemy. they are going to the right way to use an astrolabe and the way to layout sundials utilizing Greek and Roman thoughts. The ebook additionally comprises supplementary workouts and styles for making a few operating astronomical tools, together with an astrolabe and an equatorium. greater than a presentation of astronomical equipment, the publication presents a serious examine the facts used to reconstruct old astronomy. It comprises wide excerpts from historical texts, meticulous documentation, and full of life discussions of the position of astronomy within the quite a few cultures. obtainable to a large viewers, this booklet will attract someone drawn to how our figuring out of our position within the universe has replaced and constructed, from precedent days in the course of the Renaissance.

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Bu t Islamic doe s serv e t o characteriz e the cultural surroundings. One mus t have in mind, notwithstanding , that there have been Christians, Jews, an d follower s o f othe r religion s wh o perform d astronom y an d wrot e books abou t astronom y i n Islami c lands . On e mus t als o kee p i n min d tha t Islamic astronom y used to be , in it s fundamenta l personality , a continuatio n o f th e astronomy o f the Greeks . therefore, a few historians like to communicate of Arabic astronomy, referring purely t o th e dominan t languag e o f it s conversation , an d no t meanin g t o suggest tha t ever y astronomer wa s ethnically an Arab or tha t ever y astronomer wrote i n Arabic. For we needs to kee p in brain tha t astronomica l paintings s i n othe r languages, suc h a s Syriac, Hebrew , an d Persian , are a component o f thi s tale . firstly, the Arabic scientists realized their astronomy by means of learning the classics of Gree okay technology . Th e Almagest o f Ptolem y wa s th e standar d textboo okay fo r complicated stud y o f astronomy an d wa s translated int o Arabic numerous l instances. I t was once no t lengthy , even if , befor e Arabi c astronomers bega n t o writ e thei r ow n astronomical treatises . Takin g advantag e o f th e lon g tim e interva l tha t ha d elapsed among Ptolemy' s da y an d thei r personal , Arabic astronomer s mad e discoveries tha t ha d get away d th e Greeks—fo r instance , th e become aware of y o f th e five 26 TH E HISTOR Y & PRACTIC E O F ANCIEN T ASTRONOM Y reduce i n th e obliquit y o f the ecliptic . The y als o refine d th e ar t o f makin g and utilizing astronomical tools. The sola r observations used to determin e the obliquity of the ecliptic and the eccentricity of the Sun's orbit are of far better qualit y i n guy y medieva l Arabic treatise s than i n Ptolemy' s Almagest. The astrolabe , originall y a Gree okay invention , wa s develope d int o a portabl e software o f beauty and sweetness . I t becam e th e characteristi c astronomica l device o f the Middl e a while. For the motions of the planets, Ptolemy's theorie s within the Almagest remained general. No t ever y Islamic astronomer agree d with Ptolem y o n ever y aspect. The numerica l parameters of Ptolemy's planetary theories should be , and ofte n have been, better . distinction s i n philosoph y someday s le d astronomer s t o query th e geometrica l version s tha t Ptolem y ha d invente d t o explai n th e motions o f th e planets . Th e mos t frequen t bitch t wa s that Ptolem y ha d no longer caught heavily sufficient to the philosophy of Aristotle, specially the main of unifor m circula r movement. Bu t Arabi c astronom y remaine d fundamentall y Ptolemaic i n bot h it s basi c assumptions an d it s tools . Astronomy in Christian Europe by means of comparability with th e Islami c tradition o f the Mediterranean , th e Christia n lands o f wester n an d norther n Europ e wer e ver y backward . right here , i n th e wreckage of the Western Roman Empire, studying used to be safe within the monastic faculties, yet scienc e and mathematic s ha d falle n t o a n abysmally low point.

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