Astronomy of To-day A Popular Introduction in Non-Technical Language

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Excerpt PREFACE The object of this book is to give an account of the science of Astronomy, as it is known at the present day, in a manner acceptable to the general reader. It is too often supposed that it is impossible to acquire any useful knowledge of Astronomy without much laborious study, and without adventuring into quite a new world of thought. The reasoning applied to the study of the celestial orbs is, however, of no different order from that which is employed in the affairs of everyday life. The science of mathematics is perhaps responsible for the idea that some kind of difference does exist; but mathematical processes are, in effect, no more than ordinary logic in concentrated form, the shorthand of reasoning, so to speak. I have attempted in the following pages to take the main facts and theories of Astronomy out of those mathematical forms which repel the general reader, and to present them in the ordinary language of our workaday world. The few diagrams introduced are altogether supplementary, and are not connected with the text by any wearying cross-references. Each diagram is complete in itself, being intended to serve as a pictorial aid, in case the wording of the text should not have perfectly conveyed the desired meaning. The full page illustrations are also described as adequately as possible at the foot of each. As to the coloured frontispiece, this must be placed in a category by itself. It is the work of the artist as distinct from the scientist. The book itself contains incidentally a good deal of matter concerned with the Astronomy of the past, the introduction of which has been found necessary in order to make clearer the Astronomy of our time. It would be quite impossible for me to enumerate here the many sources from which information has been drawn. But I acknowledge my especial indebtedness to Professor F.R. Moulton's Introduction to Astronomy (Macmillan, 1906), to the works on Eclipses of the late Rev. S.J. Johnson and of Mr. W.T. Lynn, and to the excellent Journals of the British Astronomical Association. Further, for those grand questions concerned with the Stellar Universe at large, I owe a very deep debt to the writings of the famous American astronomer, Professor Simon Newcomb, and of our own countryman, Mr. John Ellard Gore; to the latter of whom I am under an additional obligation for much valuable information privately rendered. In my search for suitable illustrations, I have been greatly aided by the kindly advice of Mr. W. H. Wesley, the Assistant Secretary of the Royal Astronomical Society. To those who have been so good as to permit me to reproduce pictures and photographs, I desire to record my best thanks as follows:—To the French Artist, Mdlle. Andrée Moch; to the Astronomer Royal; to Sir David Gill, K.C.B., LL.D., F.R.S.; to the Council of the Royal Astronomical Society; to Professor E.B. Frost, Director of the Yerkes Observatory; to M.P. Puiseux, of the Paris Observatory; to Dr. Max Wolf, of Heidelberg; to Professor Percival Lowell; to the Rev....
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