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macpurity

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  1. I appreciate considerable interest to collect rare and historical astronomical texts. My shelves are full, so I’m more inclined to search for on-line source material. Lately, I’ve downloaded and have been reading PDFs of early volumes of The Observatory, A Monthly Review of Astronomy. Volumes 1 through 50 (and then some) from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s can be found on archive.org and on Google Books. I've been skimming vols 1 through 5 (from the late 1870's and early 1880's) and they are fascinating to read through and learn what astronomers were investigating during that time period. I've been reading first-hand accounts of journeys for transits and eclipses, as well as various observing reports, and all the struggles with, then, recently introduced methods and technologies (spectroscopy and photography were in their infancy at that time). It puts flesh on some of the great astronomical names of the day. The monthly meeting notes are like hearing their conversations. And, yes, there were rows among members of the RAS. Also found on-line are publications of various observatories dating back 100+ years ago. Reading these histories makes one well aware of how much progress has been made in the now very broad fields of astronomy, astrophysics, cosmology and space science, in general. If the members of the RAS and busy observers of that day could have a glimpse of what we’re seeing and imaging, these days, from our backyards, by major observatories and by Hubble, Euclid & JWST, let alone the dramatic developments in catalogues based on Hipparchus & Gaia, they would have found it absolutely stupendous! Sometimes it helps to look back, just like we do when observing most celestial objects!
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