Welcome to the NavList Message Boards.


A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding

Compose Your Message

Add Images & Files
    Re: Newton and Halley
    From: George Huxtable
    Date: 2007 Nov 19, 01:01 -0000

    In response to my statement-
    > I've never, to my recollection, even suggested that Halley used lunar
    > distances. All his observations that I've examined have been of lunar
    > appulses with stars, to determine the Moon's position, and have involved
    > no
    > measurement of lunar distance at all.
    Mike Daly wrote-
    | Of what use is Newton's instrument in occultations and appulses?  You
    | just need a telescope.
    Aha... The penny has dropped! I couldn't have put it better myself.
    Though I tried. How I tried...
    In Navlist  3870, I wrote-
    " ...And not,
    usually, an "occultation", but an "appulse" or near-miss, of the Moon as it
    passed a star. As near as I could tell, he timed (relative to a star
    time-sight) the moment when he judged the star to be aligned with an
    extended line which joined the horns of the Moon. How he allowed for
    parallax, I do not know. I've seen no mention, in Thrower, of any
    measurement of lunar-distance that could be identified as such. That does
    not imply that it didn't happen, however. Halley's method avoided the need
    for a measure of lunar distance".
    and in Navlist 3880, in response to his question-
    "| It also doesn't state clearly that he found the longitude
    | with it _at sea_."
    I replied-
    "My reading of it does. How else does he interpret the words "with which
    notwithstanding Mr Hally had found the Longitude better than the Seamen by
    other means"? However, we know better (or I think I do anyway) having the
    advantage of reading Halley's journals which Newton would not have had, and
    which show that his "lunars" came from a different method than lunar
    distance. That's exactly why, in my original posting, I used Halley's
    precise latitudes, rather than his longitudes, as evidence that he was
    indeed using a two-mirror instrument. Newton's instrument would have been
    used for his latitudes, and also for his star altitudes to get local time,
    part of the process for finding longitude."
    And that's the very point I've been trying to get across, but obviously
    failed to do so. Newton developed the instrument in order to measure lunar
    distances. But Halley didn't USE it to measure lunar distances! His "lunars"
    were based on a method of his own devising, used by nobody else before or
    since, and probably useful only to a skilled astronomer. As Mike Daly says,
    it needed only a telescope. Newton, not having read Halley's journal (as we
    can) thought, incorrectly, that Halley's longitudes resulted from using his
    Halley, we presume, used Newton's instrument to measure altitudes, for
    getting latitude and for establishing local time. And that's why Ted Gerrard
    relied on Halley's latitudes, and not his longitudes, to prove that he was
    using an instrument that was very special for his time.
    After a bit more research, I can offer some extra morsels.
    I'm told that the text of the entry in the Journal Book, as quoted by
    Gerrard, which is only found in a shortened form in many textbooks, appears
    in full in Bruce Bauer's "The Sextant Handbook" of 1986. I'm sure many
    members will have that book on their shelves (though I don't) and will be
    able to confirm whether that is the case. If so, I would like to learn where
    Bauer says it came from.
    And again, I'm told that Halley wrote, in Phil. Trans. 37, (1731), 185-95,
    that he obtained his longitudes at sea by observations of "a near Transite
    of the Moon by a known fix'd star", using "a five or six foot telescope,
    capable of showing the appulses or occultations of the Fix'd stars by the
    Moon, on shipboard, in moderate weather." How he managed such a telescope, I
    have no idea, but at a guess it must have been suspended from the rigging at
    the far end. In Lecky's sexist words, a century lator, "sailors are not
    women". Not in those days, they weren't.
    contact George Huxtable at george@huxtable.u-net.com
    or at +44 1865 820222 (from UK, 01865 820222)
    or at 1 Sandy Lane, Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5HX, UK.
    | > It was written at the time as a formal official record of the Royal
    | > gathering by the Secretary appointed to do so, and subject to later
    | > as being a true record. Hearsay? Absurd!
    | Having attended many meetings of one royal society and one royal
    | institute (neither in Britain), having been an executive of the first, I
    | can assure you that secretaries make mistakes - that's why the first bit
    | of the meetings is to review and correct the prior minutes.  And even
    | after such corrections, there are still errors.  Further, the minutes
    | are not completely written during the meetings; some are changed in the
    | days, weeks or even months afterwards.  The text always contains the
    | secretary's interpretation of what was said, not direct quotes.  I
    | should note that this is with modern tape recording equipment available.
    | I rather doubt that London's Royal Society of the day was somehow
    | > Does he contend, then, that Newton didn't say what the Secretary wrote?
    | > that, for some reason, Newton was lying? Does Mike Daly know better,
    | I only know that the record does not give us specific knowledge of which
    | instrument was used.  Nor does it specify the means by which Halley
    | tested the instrument.  It does not quote Newton, but paraphrase him.
    | > In a previous posting, he proposed instead, with no evidence whatever,
    | > that Halley used an unworkable instrument of Halley's own design, but
    | > suitably modified according to Daly's precepts (including a second
    | > to render it effective. Complete fantasy!
    | You're making this up entirely.  I stated that the instrument would work
    | - it may not be he best instrument ever, but it would work.  I then said
    | that if _I_ were to make it, I'd suggest some modifications to make it
    | more workable.  I also said that it could have been modified with a
    | second mirror if you wanted it to be a double-reflection instrument.  I
    | _never_ suggested that Halley actually used it, only that he could have
    | if he wanted to.  There is no record on the matter one way or the other
    | that I am aware of.  Cotter does not know of any either.
    | Mike
    | |
    | --
    | No virus found in this incoming message.
    | Checked by AVG Free Edition.
    | Version: 7.5.503 / Virus Database: 269.15.31/1128 - Release Date:
    13/11/2007 11:09
    To post to this group, send email to NavList@fer3.com
    To unsubscribe, send email to NavList-unsubscribe@fer3.com

    Browse Files

    Drop Files


    What is NavList?

    Join NavList

    (please, no nicknames or handles)
    Do you want to receive all group messages by email?
    Yes No

    You can also join by posting. Your first on-topic post automatically makes you a member.

    Posting Code

    Enter the email address associated with your NavList messages. Your posting code will be emailed to you immediately.

    Email Settings

    Posting Code:

    Custom Index

    Start date: (yyyymm dd)
    End date: (yyyymm dd)

    Visit this site
    Visit this site
    Visit this site
    Visit this site
    Visit this site
    Visit this site