Great Astronomers Hardcover – Nov 2004
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About the Author
Sir Robert Stawell Ball F.R.S. (1 July 1840, Dublin – 25 November 1913, Cambridge) was an Irish astronomer. He worked for Lord Rosse from 1865 to 1867. In 1867 he became Professor of Applied Mathematics at the Royal College of Science in Dublin. In 1874 Ball was appointed Royal Astronomer of Ireland and Andrews Professor of Astronomy in the University of Dublin at Dunsink Observatory. In 1892 he was appointed Lowndean Professor of Astronomy and Geometry at Cambridge University at the same time becoming director of the Cambridge Observatory. His lectures, articles and books (e.g. Starland and The Story of the Heavens) were mostly popular and simple in style. However, he also published books on mathematical astronomy such as A Treatise on Spherical Astronomy. His main interest was mathematics and he devoted much of his spare time to his "Screw theory". He served for a time as President of the Quaternion Society. His work The Story of the Heavens is mentioned in the "Lestrygonians" chapter of James Joyce's Ulysses. He was the son of naturalist Robert Ball and Amelia Gresley Hellicar. He is buried at the Parish of the Ascension Burial Ground in Cambridge, with his wife Lady Francis Elizabeth Ball. Their children were: Frances Amelia, Robert Steele, William Valentine (later Sir), Mary Agnetta, Charles Rowan Hamilton, and Randall Gresley (later Colonel). --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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A list of the astronomers featured in this book:
PTOLEMY, COPERNICUS, TYCHO BRAHE, GALILEO, KEPLER, ISAAC NEWTON, FLAMSTEED, HALLEY, BRADLEY, WILLIAM HERSCHEL, LAPLACE, BRINKLEY, JOHN HERSCHEL, THE EARL OF ROSSE, AIRY, HAMILTON, LE VERRIER, ADAMS.
To give an idea of the content and style of writing I copy the first two phrases of the first astronomer featured in this book, Ptolemy:
The career of the famous man whose name stands at the head of this
chapter is one of the most remarkable in the history of human
learning. There may have been other discoverers who have done more
for science than ever Ptolemy accomplished, but there never has been
any other discoverer whose authority on the subject of the movements
of the heavenly bodies has held sway over the minds of men for so
long a period as the fourteen centuries during which his opinions
I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the history of astronomy or science, and of course to everybody who is interested in any of the astronomers depicted in this book. I did find the manner in which this book was written quite dull and lifeless ('2-stars'), but because of the information it gives (worth '4-stars') I give it a '3-star' review.