From the Jacket
This important book deals with the study of astronomical science and its contribution to the world of Astronomy and science. Its comprises five illuminating lectures :
An Addenda on Richmond's Religion of the Universe had been appended. Swami Abhedananda's Treatment into this subject is very scientific and rational.
About the Author
He is an apostle of Sri Ramakrishna Born October 2,1866-spent his early life among the brotherhood in Barangar monastery near Calcutta in severe austerity Travelled barefooted all over India from 1888-1895-Went to London at her call of Swami Vivekananda in 1896-Acquainted with many distinguished savants including Prof. Max Mueller and Prof. Deussen in New York and took charge of the Vedanta Society in 1897- become acquainted with Prof. William James and the Prof. Of Columbia-Travelled extensively all through the United States, Canada, Alaska and Mexico-Made frequent trips to Europe delivering lectures in different parts of the Continent-Crossed the Atlantic seventeen times-Was appreciated very much for hisprofundity of scholarship, intellectual brilliance, oratorical talents, charming personality and nobility of character-Made a short visit to Indian in 1906- Returned to America -came back to India finally in 1921- On his way home joined the Educational conference Honolulu- Visited Japan, China, Singapore, -started on a long tour and went as far as Tibet in 1922-Established centres at Calcutta and Darjeeling-Left his mortal frame on September8, 1939.
Astronomy (Gr. estron, a star; nomos, a law) teaches whatever is known of the heavenly bodies. It may be divided into three main heads : (1) Geometrical or Mathematical Astronomy, (2) Physical Astronomy, and (3) Sidereal Astronomy. (1) Geometrical or Mathematical Astronomy is concerned with the exact determination of the numerical and geometrical elements, magnitudes and the figures they describev in their motions. (2) Physical Astronomy is concerned with the nature of the powers or forces that carry on the heavenly motions, the laws that they observe and the calculation of the motions from a knowledge of these laws. (3) Sidereal Astronomy is concerned with whatever is ascertained regarding the universe of the fixed stars. Besides these, another practical astronomy may be taken into consideration for various accounts of the astronomical instruments which are concerned with the astronomical requirements. (Vide Chambers' Encyclopaedia, vol. I, 1877, P. 506)
The Hindus, the Chinese, the Chaldeans, the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans and other ancient civilized nations of the world are known to have investigated the heaven long before the Christian era. Generally we come to know that the Greeks have the honour of elevating astronomy into a reliable history. But, before the Greeks, the Hindus were interested in the science of astronomy and its evidence is found in the Vedic literature. In ancient Greece, Thales (640 B.C.), the founder of the Ionic school of philosophy, laid the foundation of Greek astronomy. It is said that he, for the first time, propagated the theory of the earth's sphericity, as he divided the sphere into five zones. Anaxagoras also devoted his energy in the culture of this science of astronomy. In 500 B.C., Pythagoras propagated the science of astronomy as an able successor of Thales and taught that the morning and evening stars were in reality one and the same planet. But physicists are of the opinion that the views of Pythagoras got no support from his successors until the advent of Copernicus. The advent of the Alexandrian school is also remarkable in that period. In 432 B.C. Meton introduced the luni-solar cycle (Metonic Cycle) :'as already intimated, and in conjunction with Euctemon, observed a solstice at Athens in the year 424 B.C.". The Alexandrian school determined the positions of the fixed stars by systematic arrangements of the planets and ultimately presented the trigonometrical methods and the first system of theoretical astronomy that had ever comprehended an entire plan of the celestial motions. The most interesting circumstances connected with the early history of the Alexandrian school are the attempts made to determine the distance of the earth from the sun and the magnitude of the terrestrial globe. Aristarchus of Samos-the pioneer of the Copernicus system, as Humboldt calls him-is the author of an ingenious plan to ascertain the former. Now there arose many noted astronomers like Timocharis, Aristyllps. Hipparchus of Bithynia (160-125 B.C.) who belonged to the Alexandrian school. Hipparchus catalogued no less than 1801 stars and his is the first reliable catalogue.
In 130-150 AD., we come across Ptolemy who was known as a practical astronomer and who discovered the. libration or evection of the moon. He also was the first to point out the effect of refraction. As a musician, a geographer, and a mathematician also, he was reputed and he improved many of the theories advanced by Hipparchus. In 762 AD., we notice the remarkable works in the field of astronomy "in the reign of the Caliph AI Mansur who gave great encouragement to science, as did also his successors, the 'good Haroun AI Rashid' and 'AI Mamoun'''. The most illustrious of the Arabian school were Albategnius or AI Batani (880 A.D.), who discovered the motion of the solar apogee, who was the first to make use of sines and versed sines instead of chords, who also corrected the Greek observations, and was altogether the most distinguished observer between Hipparchus and the Copernican era; and Ibn-Yunis (1000 A.D.), an excellent. mathematician, who made observations and eccentricities of Jupiter and Saturn, and who was the first to use cotangents and secants.
In the northern part of Persia, an observatory was erected (in 1322 AD.) by a descendant of the renowned warrior Chenghis Khan, where some tablets were constructed by Nasir-ud-din, and at Samarkand Ulugh Beg, a grandson of Timur, made many observations and published some correct catalogues of stars. In 13th-14th centuries, we find the first translation from the Almagest, made under the Emperor Frederick II of Germany in about 1230 AD., and in 1252 A.D., an impulse was given to science by the formation of astronomical tablets under the auspices of Alfonso X of Castile. From 1220 AD. to 1476 AD., we find names of some astronomers like Holywood (Sacrobosco), Purbach, Heqiomontanus (John MUller), Waltherus.
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