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Solar Eclipse Observations in the Time of Copernicus: Tradition or Novelty?

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Abstract

In Western astronomy before Tycho Brahe and Kepler, only a handful of astronomical observations were actually used to derive parameters in a theory or to test the structure of a theory. Those observations, usually quoted in scientific treatises, such as the Almagest or De revolutionibus, have been analysed by historians of astronomy who want to know how observations are to be tied to a theory. Not surprisingly, those records give us a very general picture of historical observational practice. However, there are still not fully explored series of observations that allow us to understand details of the observational methods used in the medieval and early modern period and the transmission of these methods. This paper will offer an examination of such a series of observations made in Frauenburg by Nicolaus Copernicus. The series was recorded by Copernicus in his copy of Johann Stoeffler's Calendarium Romanum magnum (Oppenheim, 1518), and concerns four partial solar eclipses that occurred in 1530, 1536, 1540, and 1541. It will be argued that Copernicus employed the camera obscura (pinhole camera) to measure the magnitude of these eclipses. This conclusion will allow us to strengthen a thesis previously proposed by Ludwik A. Birkenmajer, that the astronomical use of images formed through an aperture, which spread among European astronomers in the second half of the sixteenth century, may have its source in eclipse measurements made by Copernicus during the later years of his scientific activity.
2007JHA....38..351W
2007JHA....38..351W
2007JHA....38..351W
2007JHA....38..351W
2007JHA....38..351W
2007JHA....38..351W
2007JHA....38..351W
2007JHA....38..351W
2007JHA....38..351W
2007JHA....38..351W
2007JHA....38..351W
2007JHA....38..351W
2007JHA....38..351W
2007JHA....38..351W
... Based on some indirect evidence, we can assume that in the relevant period, Copernicus used a pinhole camera (camera obscura) to determine the eclipse magnitude. 16 Rheticus placed Copernicus' observations of the eclipses in the broader temporal perspective: "For nearly 40 years in Italy and here in Frauenburg, he observed eclipses and the motion of the sun." 17 Apart from the aforementioned observations of the equinoxes and later observations of the eclipses, one of the direct accounts of Copernicus' studies of the motions of the sun is his observation of the sun at Scorpio 15 o published in De revolutionibus (III, 16). 18 It was used to derive the elements of the solar orbits. ...
... Based on some indirect evidence, we can assume that in the relevant period, Copernicus used a pinhole camera (camera obscura) to determine the eclipse magnitude. 16 Rheticus placed Copernicus' observations of the eclipses in the broader temporal perspective: "For nearly 40 years in Italy and here in Frauenburg, he observed eclipses and the motion of the sun." 17 Apart from the aforementioned observations of the equinoxes and later observations of the eclipses, one of the direct accounts of Copernicus' studies of the motions of the sun is his observation of the sun at Scorpio 15 o published in De revolutionibus (III, 16). 18 It was used to derive the elements of the solar orbits. ...
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The article discusses the construction, function, and origin of the solar dial in the Olsztyn Castle, traditionally attributed to Copernicus. The dial, preserved partially on the wall of the cloister and presumably designed to determine the time of equinoxes, served as an astronomical instrument mapping the daily paths of the sun in the sky. The article provides a comprehensive mathematical model of the instrument, taking into account the astronomical and architectural factors which affected its functioning. The analysis allows to alienate the essential properties of the dial as an observational instrument and to contend that measurements were recorded indelibly on the wall and averaged by interpolation. Furthermore, it reconsiders the arguments which support the hypothesis ascribing the construction of the Olsztyn instrument to Copernicus. (Some mathematical appendices appear only in the online issue of the journal.)
... III,13, ale u Kopernika znajdujemy ułamek 1/106 zamiast 1/105. 37 Mowa oczywiście o ruchu precesyjnym, opisanym w poprzednim rozdziale. ...
... krytyczną tekstu wraz z przekładem na j. angielski i argumentami na rzecz autorstwa Retyka zawiera: R. Hooykaas, G. J. Rheticus' Treatise on Holy Scrip- ture and the Motion of the Earth, Amsterdam 1984. Wypada jednak zaznaczyć, że nie wszyscy badacze zgadzają się z tą identyfikacją.37Zob. J. Włodarczyk, Solar Eclipse Observations in the Time of Copernicus: Tra- dition or Novelty?, "Journal for the History ofAstronomy", t. 38, 2007, s. 351-364. ...
Book
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Book
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Full-text available
In 1540 the world first heard about the heliocentric theory of Nicolaus Copernicus. Paradoxically enough, this revolution in astronomy was announced not by Copernicus himself but by Georg Joachm Rheticus, a youn Lutheran mathematician of Wittenberg, who published the First Account of the Books "On the Revolutions" by Nicolaus Copernicus. His book preceded the publication of Copernicus's De revolutionibus by three years and became one of the most fascinating texts documenting the life and work of the great Polisg astronomer. This facsimile edition is based on the copy of the first edition of the Narratio prima (Gdansk, 1540) and contains an introduction written by Jarosław Włodarczyk from the Institute for the History of Science, Polish Academy of Sciences.
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