Newton and the Origin of Civilization by Buchwald Jed Z.; Feingold Mordechai;

Newton and the Origin of Civilization by Buchwald Jed Z.; Feingold Mordechai;

Author:Buchwald, Jed Z.; Feingold, Mordechai;
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Published: 2012-08-14T16:00:00+00:00

equinoctial: mid-Chelae

Chelarum medium secundum latitudinem

equinoctial: right-hand and foreknee of Centaur

Centauri praeterea dextram manum, [et] anteriora genua

equinoctial: flexure of Eridanus

flexum fluminis

equinoctial: head of Cetus

Ceti caput

equinoctial: back of Aries across

Arietis terga secundum latitudinem

equinoctial: head and right hand of Perseus

Persei caput cumdextra manu

a Petau, 1630, pp. 207–8.

The only star catalog remaining from Greco-Roman antiquity had been compiled by Ptolemy and was included in his Almagest.22 That catalog, it had long been thought, was closely connected to Hipparchus’ own, which was otherwise lost.23 There Ptolemy gave tropical coordinates, specifying a star’s longitude—its distance along the ecliptic from the spring equinox—by its position within one of the twelve fixed signs of the zodiac through which the zodiacal constellations (after which the signs were named) move with precession over the centuries. The catalog had been thoroughly updated by Tycho at the turn of the sixteenth century, and most notably thereafter by Hevelius for epoch 1660, who also added eleven new northern constellations.24 Manuals were also published during the seventeenth century that contained star catalogs, as well as information on computational procedures useful for navigation and in some cases for astrology.25 Newton initially used Hevelius’ coordinates in his chronological computations, although apparently he did not own a copy of the 1690 Prodromus. At some point during the 1690s, Newton received from Flamsteed a large set of coordinates26—in the early 1680s he had already obtained several of the Astrononomer Royal’s epoch 1680 coordinates for use in cometary computations, though these would not have been the ones that he needed for the purpose of chronology.27 Figure 8.3, painted with figure 8.2 at Greenwich in 1727 by James Thornhill, places Newton together with Flamsteed, Kepler and Tycho.


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