Considerations on the Change of the Latitudes of Some of the Principal Fixt Stars,’ pp. 736-8 in ...

Considerations on the Change of the Latitudes of Some of the Principal Fixt Stars,’ pp. 736-8 in Philosophical Transactions, Vol. 30, No. 355

HALLEY, Edmund

Editorial: W. & J. Innys, 1718
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Complete journal issue. 4to, pp. 735-774 with one folding engraved plate (the plate - which does not refer to Halley's paper - strengthened at gutter). Disbound. FIRST EDITION OF HALLEY’S DISCOVERY OF STELLAR ‘PROPER MOTIONS’ – THAT STARS MOVE. “Halley’s most notable achievement in stellar astronomy was his discovery of stellar motion. From earliest times the stars had been regarded as fixed, and there seemed no reason to question this assumption. In 1710 Halley, who took a great interest in early astronomy, settled down to examine Ptolemy’s writings and paid particular attention to his star catalog. It soon became evident that there were discrepancies, even allowing for precession and observational errors; and Halley rightly decided that the differences between Ptolemy’s catalog and those compiled some 1,500 years later were so gross that the only rational explanation was to assume that the stars possessed individual motions. Halley was able to detect such proper motion only in the case of three bright stars—Arcturus, Procyon, and Sirius—but he correctly deduced that others which were dimmer, and could therefore be expected to be further away, possessed motions too small to be detected. It was not until a century and a half later that the study of proper motions could really be extended, but this was due to insufficient instrumental accuracy and not to disregard of Halley’s opinion” (DSB). “In 1717, Halley published an extraordinary three-page paper in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. The paper’s title is ‘Considerations on the Change of the Latitudes of Some of the Principal Fixt Stars’ During an investigation into the value of the obliquity of the ecliptic and the precession of the equinox, Halley found some large changes in latitudes or declinations for some stars. Halley’s paper contains the usage of his time of simple Latitude and Longitude, but Declination is used interchangeably with Latitude a few times in the paper Halley compared contemporary positions for the bright stars Sirius, Arcturus, and Aldebaran with the positions given by Ptolemy, Timocharis, and Hipparchus. Note that Aldebaran is called ‘Palilicium’ or ‘the Bulls Eye’ in Halley’s paper. Halley took the time span between the old observations and his to be 1,800 years. He noted problems with the latitudes (or declinations) of these stars and wrote: “All these three Stars are found to be above half a degree more Southerly at this time than the Antients reckoned them What shall we say then? It is scarce credible that the Antients could be deceived in so plain a matter, three Observers confirming each other. Again, these Stars being the most conspicuous in Heaven, are in all probability the nearest to the Earth, and if they have any particular motion of their own, it is most likely to be perceived in them, which in so long a time as 1800 Years may shew itself by the alteration of their places, though it be utterly imperceptible in the space of a single century of Years” (p. 737) This was the discovery of stellar proper motions – that stars move. The astronomers and the educated public of the time were still digesting the Copernican view of the Solar System and searching for conclusive proof almost everyone at the time, including luminaries, believed that the stars were fixed in space, points of light embedded in the starry firmament Halley’s discovery started a changed view of the heavens” (Brandt, pp. 152-3). Brandt, J. C. ‘St. Helena, Edmond Halley, the discovery of stellar proper motion, and the mystery of Aldebaran,’ Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage, Vol. 13, No. 2, p. 149 - 158 (2010). N° de ref. de la librería ABE-18692526357

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Título: Considerations on the Change of the ...

Editorial: W. & J. Innys

Año de publicación: 1718

Encuadernación: No Binding

Condición del libro: Very Good

Edición: 1st Edition

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