Jump to content

Stargazers Lounge Uses Cookies

Like most websites, SGL uses cookies in order to deliver a secure, personalised service, to provide social media functions and to analyse our traffic. Continued use of SGL indicates your acceptance of our cookie policy.

sgl_imaging_challenge_banner_android_vs_ios_winners.thumb.jpg.803608cf7eedd5cfb31eedc3e3f357e9.jpg

Stub Mandrel

History of Astronomy - Reading List

Recommended Posts

Olly, there are various copies on Amazon Market place for well under a tenner. If they won't deliver to France let me know and I'll get hold of one and post it.

Allan Chapman's talk at the Autumn Conference of the Society for the History of Astronomy was on John Herschel; in fact Allan gave a talk on John Herschel at the AGM of the Federation of Astronomical Societies a few weeks earlier, but the talks were very different, as Allan doesn't use slides for prompts. The Herschel's were an amazing bunch. In fact in the 2016 Yearbook of Astronomy Allan has a chapter dedicated to John Herschel; these are very cheap online too:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Patrick-Moores-Yearbook-Astronomy-2016/dp/1447287088/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1452155905&sr=8-1&keywords=2016+yearbook+astronomy

James

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Olly, there are various copies on Amazon Market place for well under a tenner. If they won't deliver to France let me know and I'll get hold of one and post it.

Allan Chapman's talk at the Autumn Conference of the Society for the History of Astronomy was on John Herschel; in fact Allan gave a talk on John Herschel at the AGM of the Federation of Astronomical Societies a few weeks earlier, but the talks were very different, as Allan doesn't use slides for prompts. The Herschel's were an amazing bunch. In fact in the 2016 Yearbook of Astronomy Allan has a chapter dedicated to John Herschel; these are very cheap online too:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Patrick-Moores-Yearbook-Astronomy-2016/dp/1447287088/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1452155905&sr=8-1&keywords=2016+yearbook+astronomy

James

Thanks James, that's kind. On looking more carefully I saw the used copies and have just ordered one. No problem sending to France. I've long been curious about a snippet I read in a biography of Darwin. When Darwin visited John Herschel at the Cape, the Beagle being in the vicinity, he was eager to verify the things he'd heard about him. He'd heard that Herschel was a most genial man with terrible manners. He later said that both were true! I wonder what could have been wrong with his manners? Perhaps he loosened his tie once they'd moved on to the port?  :happy7: Scandalous!

Olly

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I enjoy recent history, as well as materials dating back to antiquity. It's fascinating to see the minds behind the theories at work. But a pre-Hubble tome, try: Astronomy by Fred Hoyle. Hoyle was a believer in the Steady-State theory, as well as one of the most prominent astronomers of the 20th century.

A prolific writer, Fred lured many people into both professional astronomy and our hobby as amatuer-astronomers. The book 'Astronomy' was published as a hardcover coffee-table styled book, noted for it's beautiful photographs. Perhaps a copy could be found in the used-book marketplace.

Dave

When I was in school we always scoured New Scientist to find Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe's latest wacky ideas on the origin of life :-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent to discover this. Thanks. Currently out of stock but I'll try ABE books, the second hand booksellers' collective website. John Herschel is rather overlooked these days but was regarded as the  foremost scientist of his age. Darwin was very anxious to have his approval.

Olly

The book I mentioned suggests that John Herschel could have succeeded in almost any field, but instead chose (rather reluctantly) to complete his father's work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I spotted this in a flurry of History of Astronomy internetting yesterday and finished it today on Kindle. http://www.amazon.com/Harlow-Shapley-Biography-Astronomer-Measured/dp/1508950849

It's a very lame duck. There's virtually nothing new in it, no sense of character, no spice, just Shapely went here then he went there and then he did this and he did that. We are told that he had a point of view about science and religion but not what that point of view was. We hear that he went to left wing meetings but not what he said at them. Not one word is said about his strained relationship with Edwin Hubble or about why he left Mount Wilson. (Surely Hubble was part of the problem?)  Towards the end Shapely disappears entirely from his own biography which launches into a series of disconnected vignettes depicting his colleagues. We are told briefly that he was (to his eternal credit) reviled by the House Commission on Un-American Activity and investigated by them. 

The writing is dull and the editing abysmal, with lurches and reptitions abounding. For two pages Henry Norris Russell becomes Henry Russell Norris. (Well, it made a change!) 

One thing I did learn, though, was that Shapely's son won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2012. Well now, good on him.

It seems bizarre that such a great figure in astronomy should not have attracted a professional biographer.

Conclusion? Worth a 'C' at A level. 

Olly

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's a very lame duck. There's virtually nothing new in it, no sense of character, no spice, just Shapely went here then he went there and then he did this and he did that. 

Olly

Charles Whitney gives some insights into Shapely's character and motivation. His concluding comments on the man may contain more colour than that whole book!

post-43529-0-19263800-1452189119_thumb.j

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Charles Whitney gives some insights into Shapely's character and motivation. His concluding comments on the man may contain more colour than that whole book!

attachicon.gifshapely_001.JPG

Now that's more like it! Surely there's a Shapley biography waiting to be written.

Olly

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Project Gutenberg has quite a few titles on astronomy.

Check them out here.

I just downloaded Myths and Marvels of Astronomy, by Richard A. Proctor, published in 1896. The books on Project Gutenberg are historical in their own right, and almost always contain sections on earlier developments in astronomy (That's how these older books are!). Some titles are on amateur astronomy.

Each book is available in different formats. I prefer "EPUB with images" for on my e-reader.

Enjoy reading.

Edited by Ruud
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The life of Isaac Newton, by Richard S Westfall, published by Cambridge University Press is an excellent biography, without the Science and Mathematics content of Never at Rest. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just a golden dated oldie, "History of Astronomy " by Patrick Moore. It's just classic, with many photos from the 200" Palomar. Just a lovely comfortable read.

It's great to retrace steps, the Herschel legacy lives on and many a night has been spent observing their discoveries,

Nick.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One of the best loved Victorian amateur astronomers was the Rev Thomas William Webb who wrote 'Celestral Objects for Common Telescopes'. Webb was a rural clergyman in Herefordshire and a few years ago Janet and Mark Robinson produced a lovely book called 'The Stargazer of Hardwicke'.

The Webb Society is named in his honour and a few years ago I was asked to visit Hardwicke (to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the book) and show objects in the nights sky. It is so dark in Hardwicke with no light pollution.

If you are in Herefordshire its worth visiting the Church where he was Vicar.

Book details ISBN 0 85244 666 7

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An interesting article by Neil English. Hereford in the Victorian area was a very small market town. If you read Neil's article two other people are mentioned. Rev Henry Cooper Key and George With. Rev Cooper Key was vicar of Stretton Sugwas Church only a few miles from Hereford (close to the current SAS Regiment Headquarters) and George With was Headmaster of Bluecoat School in Hereford City.

So you had 3 quite experience astronomers living close to each other in a small rural community.

Perhaps those members attending SGLX1 in March who may be interested in Victorian Astronomy History could have a trip around Hardwicke, Stretton Sugwas and the Old Bluecoat School (now a Night Club) as a daytime activity.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I spotted this in a flurry of History of Astronomy internetting yesterday and finished it today on Kindle. http://www.amazon.com/Harlow-Shapley-Biography-Astronomer-Measured/dp/1508950849

It's a very lame duck. There's virtually nothing new in it, no sense of character, no spice, just Shapely went here then he went there and then he did this and he did that. We are told that he had a point of view about science and religion but not what that point of view was. We hear that he went to left wing meetings but not what he said at them. Not one word is said about his strained relationship with Edwin Hubble or about why he left Mount Wilson. (Surely Hubble was part of the problem?)  Towards the end Shapely disappears entirely from his own biography which launches into a series of disconnected vignettes depicting his colleagues. We are told briefly that he was (to his eternal credit) reviled by the House Commission on Un-American Activity and investigated by them. 

The writing is dull and the editing abysmal, with lurches and reptitions abounding. For two pages Henry Norris Russell becomes Henry Russell Norris. (Well, it made a change!) 

One thing I did learn, though, was that Shapely's son won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2012. Well now, good on him.

It seems bizarre that such a great figure in astronomy should not have attracted a professional biographer.

Conclusion? Worth a 'C' at A level. 

Olly

Thanks for the excellent (if damning) review.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the excellent (if damning) review.

Well, Michael, you'd need to read it to see if you concurred or not but I honestly can't say that the effort would be worthwhile! It's possible to obtain copies of Shapley's 'autobiography' Through Rugged Ways to the Stars and this is well worth reading. However, it's not a real autobiography. Shapley has to merit more. I kept hoping for something from Donald Osterbrock but, sadly, he died in 2007. https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Osterbrock He wrote superbly about Baader and about George Willis Ritchey and George Ellery Hale so he was a master of that period. Two of his titles:

http://www.amazon.com/Pauper-Prince-Ritchey-American-Telescopes/dp/0816511993

http://www.amazon.com/Walter-Baade-A-Life-Astrophysics/dp/069104936X

Both are essential reading if you enjoy twentieth century astronomy history.

Olly

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mark, Patrick,

Thank you for drawing Thomas Webb's Celestial Observations to my attention. The misery of an abcess that was sore, not painful, but making my life a total misery due to the effects of the intransigent infection came to a head today. The offending tooth (molar) was removed. Against my better judgement I will spare further details.

Reading up to 'Jupiter' in Thomas Webb's book (I glossed over much of the moon due to lack of the map) has given me much to enjoy, and proves once again that when there was less to know, folk wrote about it so much better! I even pt some of his Latin quotes in to google!

What amazes me is how he makes no mention of the Great Red Spot as a permanent feature, his overview of big spots makes intereting reading against what Wikipedia says of the spot in the early 19th Century.

I',m looking forward to reading the rest of the book.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Two books I've enjoyed reading are:

Miss Leavitt's Stars: The Untold Story of the Woman Who Discovered How to Measure the Stars, by George Johnson - the story of Henrietta Swan Leavitt

Starlight Detectives: How Astronomers, Inventors and Eccentrics Discovered the Modern Universe, by Alan Hirshfeld - this book could easily have been subtitled "The History of Astrophotography" and was a thoroughly good read.

Thanks for this interesting thread!

- Stu

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stu,

I've just ordered a copy of the Hirshfield book, thanks for the link.

James

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've just seen this book in the library and a couple of paragraphs read very well so I've ordered a copy:

Of Stars and Men: Reminiscences of an Astronomer Hardcover – 1 Jan 1986

by Zdenek Kopal (Author)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Stars-Men-Reminiscences-Astronomer/dp/0852745672/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1458577075&sr=8-2&keywords=0852745672

A name I've encountered several times, but it will be interesting to read about the man himself.

James

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I spotted on another list the announcement of this recently-published Biography of George Herbig (free PDF download, 15M, 267 pages) from the Hawaii Institute for Astronomy. I've not had time for more than a quick look through, but as well as some interesting historical material, it contains sections on the T Tauri stars, Herbig-Haro objects, the ISM and various types of variable and exotic stars. Apparently there will be more such books being published and made freely available to the community from the same source. Check out the photo of the Lick 36" refractor on p9....

Martin

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anofher nice find; thank you. I'm currently reading "The Immortal Fire Within" by William Sheehan about the life and work of Edward Emerson Barnard (I'd highly recommend it but it's not cheap); I've just got to the bit where Barnard has started work at the Lick Observatory, but there are no images of the 36" to compare to that one on page 9 of the Herbig biography. It's enormous!

James

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.