By Olaf Pedersen
The Almagest, through the Greek astronomer and mathematician Ptolemy, is crucial surviving treatise on early mathematical astronomy, providing historians invaluable perception into the astronomy and arithmetic of the traditional world.
Pedersen's 1974 e-book, A Survey of the Almagest, is the latest in a protracted culture of partners to the Almagest. half paraphrase and half observation, Pedersen's paintings has earned the common compliment of historians and serves because the definitive introductory textual content for college kids drawn to learning the Almagest.
during this revised variation, Alexander Jones, a uncommon authority at the heritage of early astronomy, presents supplementary info and observation to the unique textual content to account for scholarship that has seemed considering 1974. This revision additionally accommodates quite a few corrections to Pedersen's unique textual content which have been pointed out on the grounds that its publication.
This quantity is meant to supply scholars of the background of astronomy with a self-contained creation to the Almagest, assisting them to appreciate and have fun with Ptolemy's nice and classical paintings.
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Extra resources for A Survey of the Almagest: With Annotation and New Commentary by Alexander Jones (Sources and Studies in the History of Mathematics and Physical Sciences)
The absence of daily parallax in the fixed stars would have set Ptolemy free to adopt 42 the hypothesis of the rotating Earth as an explanation of the diurnal motion of the heavens. Although this hypothesis was known to Greek astronomers, for instance, Hicetas, Ecphantus, Philolaus, Heracleides, and Aristarchus, Ptolemy refers to it in the Almagest only to refute it. This refutation is the purpose of the following chapter. The Immobility of the Earth That the Earth remains immovable at the centre of the universe is first proved very briefly by an astronomical argument [I, 7; Rei 1,21].
On the other hand, one is grateful that he did leave this physical point of view out of consideration in the Almagest. Had he chosen a different course, the work would have lost in clarity, and a lot of 'physical niceties' would have obscured the magnificent mathematical structure which is Ptolemy's lasting claim to fame as one of the greatest theoretical astronomers of all time. 46 CHAPTER 3 Ptolemy as a Mathematician The Foundation of Geometry Ptolemy's main scientific interest was the mathematical description of the phenomena of nature.
In de Caelo IV, 4, cf. Thomas: Greek Mathematical Works, II, 411. It would have been interesting to see how such an anti-Aristotelian doctrine was dealt with in Ptolemy's other lost work On the Elements. 44 The Two Principles of the Motion of the Heavens Until now we have only discussed phenomena connected with the daily motion of the heavens around the axis through the poles. This motion causes all the stars to move on circles parallel to the equator. Ptolemy explains the etymology of this name by the fact that the equator always and everywhere is divided into two equal parts by the horizon just as day and night are equal at the dates when the Sun is on the equator [I, 8; Hei 1, 26].