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Neptune: From Grand Discovery to a World Revealed By William Sheehan

Neptune: From Grand Discovery to a World Revealed by William Sheehan

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Summary

The 1846 discovery of Neptune is one of the most remarkable stories in the history of science and astronomy. Through this process, the book analyzes why the mathematical approach that proved so potent in the discovery of Neptune, grand as it was, could not help produce similar discoveries despite several valiant attempts.

Neptune: From Grand Discovery to a World Revealed Summary

Neptune: From Grand Discovery to a World Revealed: Essays on the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of John Couch Adams by William Sheehan

The 1846 discovery of Neptune is one of the most remarkable stories in the history of science and astronomy. John Couch Adams and U.J. Le Verrier both investigated anomalies in the motion of Uranus and independently predicted the existence and location of this new planet. However, interpretations of the events surrounding this discovery have long been mired in controversy. Who first predicted the new planet? Was the discovery just a lucky fluke? The ensuing storm engaged astronomers across Europe and the United States. Written by an international group of authors, this pathbreaking volume explores in unprecedented depth the contentious history of Neptune's discovery, drawing on newly discovered documents and re-examining the historical record. In so doing, we gain new understanding of the actions of key individuals and sharper insights into the pressures acting on them. The discovery of Neptune was a captivating mathematical moment and was widely regarded at the time as the greatest triumph of Newton's theory of universal gravitation. The book therefore begins with Newton's development of his ideas of gravity. It examines too the mathematical calculations related to the discovery of Neptune, using new theories and tools provided by advances in celestial mechanics over the past twenty years. Through this process, the book analyzes why the mathematical approach that proved so potent in the discovery of Neptune, grand as it was, could not help produce similar discoveries despite several valiant attempts. In the final chapters, we see how the discovery of Neptune marked the end of one quest-to explain the wayward motions of Uranus-and the beginning of another quest to fill in the map and understand the nature of the outer Solar System, whose icy precincts Neptune, as the outermost of the giant planets, bounds.

About William Sheehan

William Sheehan is an astronomical historian and author. He is a regular scholar-in-residence at leading observatories, including Yerkes, Lick, Lowell and Mt. Wilson. As both a professional psychiatrist and an astronomer, he has a unique insight into the personalities of the pioneering figures of the history of science. He has published a number of books on the history of solar system studies, especially on the Moon and Mars. Sheehan is a consulting editor of Sky & Telescope, a 2001 fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation for his research on the Milky Way, and a recipient of the Gold Medal of the Oriental Astronomical Association. Asteroid no. (16037) is named in his honor.
Robert W. Smith is a Professor at the University of Alberta in the Department of History and Classics. He directed the Science, Technology and Society Program in the Faculty of Arts. Smith served as the Walter Hines Page Fellow at the National Humanities Center in North Carolina in 1993-94. He held the Charles A. Lindbergh Chair in Aerospace History at the U.S. National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution during the academic year 2006-07. He is a winner of the History of Science Society's Watson Davis Prize and in 2020 he was awarded the Leroy E. Doggett Prize in Historical Astronomy by the American Astronomical Society. Smith has written numerous groundbreaking articles about the discovery of Neptune.
Trudy E. Bell, contributing editor for Sky & Telescope and member of the editorial board for Springer's Historical & Cultural Astronomy series of books, earned her M.A. in the history of science and American intellectual history from New York University (1978). Her particular research interest is nineteenth-century US astronomy. The author or coauthor of a dozen books, she has been senior writer for the University of California High-Performance AstroComputing Center, and an editor for Scientific American and IEEE Spectrum magazines. Her journalism and research awards include the David N. Schramm Award from the American Astronomical Society (2006) and the Herbert C. Pollock Award of the Dudley Observatory (2004 and 2007). Asteroid (323552) is named in her honour.
Carolyn Kennett, FRAS, is a writer, researcher and astronomer who lives in the southwest of England. She is co-editor of the Society for the History of Astronomy Bulletin. She delivers creative engagement opportunities for history, science and astronomy as a director of Mayes Creative Ltd and a director of Cornwall Sea to Stars. She runs her own business Archaeoastronomy Cornwall.

Table of Contents

Author BiographiesPreface - Allan ChapmanIntroduction: A Century and a Half of Discovery and Controversy - William SheehanChapter 1 Preliminaries to the Neptune Discovery: Newtonian Gravitational Theory - William SheehanChapter 2 Planetary Discoveries Before Neptune: From William Herschel to the Celestial Police - William Sheehan and Clifford J. CunninghamChapter 3 John Couch Adams: From Cornwall to Cambridge - Brian Sheen and Carolyn KennettChapter 4 John Couch Adams: From the Making of a Senior Wrangler to the Quest for an Unknown Planet - William SheehanChapter 5 Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier: Predictions Leading to the Discovery of Neptune- James LequeuxChapter 6 That Star is not on the Map: the German Discovery - Davor KrajnovicChapter 7 Clashing Interests: The Cambridge Network, Challis's Search, and a Storm of International Controversies - Robert W. SmithChapter 8 Lassell Discovers the Satellite, and the Strange Case of Neptune's Ring - Robert W. Smith and Richard Baum Chapter 9 Neptune's Orbit: Triggering a Reassessment of Celestial Mechanics - William Sheehan and Kenneth YoungChapter 10 Neptune Visited and the Outer Solar System Revolutionised, 1989-2019 - William Sheehan

Additional information

NGR9783030542177
9783030542177
3030542173
Neptune: From Grand Discovery to a World Revealed: Essays on the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of John Couch Adams by William Sheehan
New
Hardback
Springer Nature Switzerland AG
20210522
403
N/A
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