The history of astronomy is, like most history, a multidimensional story, and when writing about a specific period, the author has to decide how to handle all the developments of earlier times in order to set the scene. I have done this by starting most chapters of the book with a summary of astronomical knowledge at the beginning of our chosen period, together with a brief review of how such knowledge had been gained. This story is not only interesting in itself, but it will also assist those readers that would appreciate a brief reminder of some of the basic elements of astronomy. It is also…mehr
The history of astronomy is, like most history, a multidimensional story, and when writing about a specific period, the author has to decide how to handle all the developments of earlier times in order to set the scene. I have done this by starting most chapters of the book with a summary of astronomical knowledge at the beginning of our chosen period, together with a brief review of how such knowledge had been gained. This story is not only interesting in itself, but it will also assist those readers that would appreciate a brief reminder of some of the basic elements of astronomy. It is also necessary to decide when to start our history. Should it be the year 1900 or 1890, or should it be linked to some key development or investigation, e. g. the discovery of the electron by J. J. Thomson in 1897, or the discovery of spectroscopic binary stars by Pickering and Vogel (independently) in 1889, or maybe the year 1890 in which Thomas Edison tried unsuccessfully to detect radio waves from the Sun and Johannes Rydberg published his formula for atomic spectra? I have, in fact, decided to start this history at about 1890, as it was the year of publication of the Draper Memorial Catalogue of stellar spectra which, together with its updates, provided essential data for the understanding of stellar spectra until well into the twentieth century. This date also gives a clear hundred years up to the present.
1 - The Sun.- Early Work.- The Temperature of the Sun and its Generation of Energy.- The Corona.- Sunspots and the Disturbed Sun.- The Quiet Sun and the Interplanetary Plasma.- The Solar Constant.- The Solar Spectrum.- 2 - The Moon.- Early Work.- The Surface.- The Origin and Subsequent History of the Moon.- 3 - The Origin of the Solar System.- Early Theories.- Collisions and Close Encounters.- Condensing Nebulae Re-examined.- 4 - The Terrestrial Planets.- Mercury.- Venus.- The Earth.- Mars.- 5 - The Gas Giants.- Jupiter.- Saturn.- Uranus.- Neptune.- 6 - Small Bodies of the Solar System.- Pluto.- The Asteroids.- Comets.- Meteorites.- 7 - Stellar Evolution and Stellar Structures.- Early Work.- The Luminosity of Stars.- The Harvard Classification.- Initial Evolutionary Ideas.- Ionisation and the Abundance of Hydrogen in Stellar Atmospheres.- The Surface Temperature of Stars.- The Internal Structure of Stars.- The Source of Energy in Stars.- The MKK and BCD Classification Systems.- Later Evolutionary Ideas.- Stellar Populations.- 8 - Variable and Double Stars.- Early Work.- Short Period Variables.- Long Period Variables.- Irregular Variables.- Flare Stars.- Eclipsing Binaries.- Non-Eclipsing Binaries.- 9 - Young Stars, Old Stars and Stellar Explosions.- Young Stars.- Pulsars.- Novae and Supernovae.- Black Holes.- 10 - The Milky Way.- Early Work.- Dimensions and Structure.- The Interstellar Medium.- Nebulae in the Milky Way.- 11 - Galaxies.- The Nature and Distance of Spiral Nebulae.- Red Shifts.- Quasars.- Dwarf Galaxies.- Galactic Evolution.- 12 - Cosmology.- Early Cosmological Theories.- Revisions to the Hubble Constant.- The Microwave Background Radiation.- The Missing Mass.- 13 - Optical Telescopes and Observatories.- Early Telescopes.- Early Observatories.- The Transition to Reflectors.- The Harvard College Observatory.- Mount Wilson.- Palomar Mountain and the 200 inch.- Schmidt Telescopes.- South Africa.- KittPeak.- The Multi-Mirror Telescope.- Mauna Kea.- LaPalma.- The Anglo-Australian Observatory.- The European Southern Observatory.- 14 - Tools and Techniques.- Photography.- Spectroscopy.- Photometry.- Other Tools and Techniques.- 15 - Radio Astronomy.- Early Radio Astronomy.- Radio Telescopes.- 16 - Space Research.- Results from Early Sounding Rockets.- Sputniks and the Formation of NASA.- The Race to the Moon.- Early Solar Plasma Research.- Missions to the Terrestrial Planets.- Pioneers 10 and 11.- Voyagers 1 and 2.- The Halley Intercepts.- Orbital Observatories.- 17 - Modern Astronomy in Context.- 1890-1914.- 1914-1939.- 1939-1970.- 1970 to the Present.- References and Further Reading.- Units.- General Abbreviations Used.- The Greek Alphabet.- Name Index.
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