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The Gradual Acceptance of The Copernican Theory of the Universe

 
 
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image source: The Systems of the World in 1651 According to Father Riccioli (Reduced facsimile of the frontispiece in Riccioli: Almagestum Novum. Bologna, 1651.)

"The Gradual Acceptance of The Copernican Theory of the Universe"

"Astrea, goddess of the heaven, wearing angel's wings and gleaming everywhere with stars, stands at the right; on the left is Argus of the hundred eyes, not tense, but indicating by the position of the telescope at his knee rather than at the eyes in his head, that while observing the work of God's hand, he appears at the same time to be worshipping as in genuflexion." (Riccioli: Alm. Nov., Præfatio, xvii). He points to the cherubs in the heavens who hold the planets, each with its zodiacal sign: above him at the top is Mars, then Mercury in its crescent form, the Sun, and Venus also in the crescent phase; on the opposite side are Saturn in its "tripartite" form (the ring explanation was yet to be given), the sphere of Jupiter encircled by its four satellites, the crescent Moon, its imperfections clearly shown, and a comet. Thus Father Riccioli summarized the astronomical knowledge of his day. The scrolls quote Psalms 19:2, "Day unto day uttereth speech and night unto night showeth knowledge." Astrea holds in her right hand a balance in which Riccioli's theory of the universe (an adaptation of the Tychonic, see p. 80) far outweighs the Copernican or heliocentric one. At her feet is the Ptolemaic sphere, while Ptolemy himself half lies, half sits, between her and Argus, with the comment issuing from his mouth: "I will arise if only I am corrected." His left hand rests upon the coat of arms of the Prince of Monaco to whom the Almagestum Novum is dedicated."

"At the top is the Hebrew Yah-Veh, and the hand of God is stretched forth in reference to the verse in the Book of Wisdom (10:20): "But thou hast ordered all things in measure, and number and weight."

source: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/35744/35744-h/35744-h.htm

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"The Gradual Acceptance of The Copernican Theory of the Universe"

DOROTHY STIMSON, Ph.D.

NEW YORK
1917

Copyright 1917 by Dorothy Stimson

PREFACE

"THIS study does not belong in the field of astronomy, but in that of the history of thought; for it is an endeavor to trace the changes in people's beliefs and conceptions in regard to the universe as these were wrought by the dissolution of superstition resulting from the scientific and rationalist movements. The opening chapter is intended to do no more than to review briefly the astronomical theories up to the age of Copernicus, in order to provide a background for the better comprehension of the work of Copernicus and its effects."

"Such a study has been rendered possible only by the generous loan of rare books by Professor Herbert D. Foster of Dartmouth College, Professor Edwin E. Slosson of Columbia University, Doctor George A. Plimpton and Major George Haven Putnam, both of New York, and especially by the kindly generosity of Professor David Eugene Smith of Teachers College who placed his unique collection of rare mathematical books at the writer's disposal and gave her many valuable suggestions as to available material. Professors James T. Shotwell and Harold Jacoby of Columbia University have read parts of this study in manuscript. The writer gratefully acknowledges her indebtedness not only to these gentlemen, but to the many others, librarians and their assistants, fellow-students and friends, too numerous to mention individually, whose ready interest and whose suggestions have been of real service, and above all to Professor James Harvey Robinson at whose suggestion and under whose guidance the work was undertaken, and to the Reverend Doctor Henry A. Stimson whose advice and criticism have been an unfailing source of help and encouragement."

PART ONE

AN HISTORICAL SKETCH OF THE HELIOCENTRIC
THEORY OF THE UNIVERSE.

CHAPTER I.

The Development of Astronomical Thought to 1400 A.D.

A Preliminary Sketch of Early Theories as a Background.

"THE appearances in the heavens have from earliest historic ages filled men with wonder and awe; then they gradually became a source of questioning, and thinkers sought for explanations of the daily and nightly phenomena of sun, moon and stars. Scientific astronomy, however, was an impossibility until an exact system of chronology was devised.[1]Meanwhile men puzzled over the shape of the earth, its position in the universe, what the stars were and why the positions of some shifted, and what those fiery comets were that now and again appeared and struck terror to their hearts."

"In answer to such questions, the Chaldean thinkers, slightly before the rise of the Greek schools of philosophy, developed the idea of the seven heavens in their crystalline spheres encircling the earth as their center. This conception seems to lie back of both the later Egyptian and Hebraic cosmologies, as well as of the Ptolemaic. Through the visits of Greek philosophers to Egyptian shores this conception helped to shape Greek thought and so indirectly affected western civilization.-10- Thus our heritage in astronomical thought, as in many other lines, comes from the Greeks and the Romans reaching Europe (in part through Arabia and Spain), where it was shaped by the influence of the schools down to the close of the Middle Ages when men began anew to withstand authority in behalf of observation and were not afraid to follow whither their reason led them."

source and rest of the book link: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/35744/35744-h/35744-h.htm