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    Re: Simple celestial navigation in 1897
    From: Frank Reed CT
    Date: 2006 Mar 3, 22:13 EST

    Bill, you wrote:
    "It did, and does not, come  to me as a surprise that the obvious can be
    totally ignored for much longer  than a century. In the first stages of
    Koestler's book we go from bizarre  models of the solar system/universe (by
    current thinking), to functional  models of the solar system (Aristarchus of
    Samos & Herakleides) but  continued to ignore the obvious and kept trying to
    pound an elliptical peg  into a round, or square, hole for over a 1000 years.
    (A tip of the hat to my  personal high-entertainment-value favorite for the
    past several decades, the  remaining flat earthers)."
    
    Just bear in mind that "The Sleepwalkers" is  Arthur Koestler's personal
    opinion of how science operates, and many consider it  anti-science. His
    "evidence" from history was chosen to match his opinion.  Koestler was an amateur
    historian.
    
    Harvard astrophysicist and historian  of science Owen Gingerich recently
    wrote of Koestler's opinion of  Copernicus:
    " 'De Revolutionibus' was branded 'the book that nobody read' by  Arthur
    Koestler in his best-selling history of early astronomy, 'The  Sleepwalkers'.
    Koestler's highly controversial account, published in 1959,  greatly stimulated my
    own interest in the history of science. At the time, none  of us could prove
    or disprove his claim about Copernicus' text. Clearly,  however, Koestler, a
    consummate novelist famous for his gripping 'Darkness at  Noon', saw the world
    in terms of antagonists. Creating a historical vision with  Kepler as hero
    demanded villains, and Koestler placed Galileo and Copernicus in  those roles.
    Copernicus became his hapless victim."
    
    Gingerich wrote this  in the preface to his recently published book on the
    actual influence and  history of Copernicus' "De Revolutionibus". Not
    suprisingly, it was in fact  widely read by the astronomers of the day. Gingerich even
    borrowed Koestler's  expression for his title. It is "The Book Nobody Read:
    Chasing the Revolutions  of Nicolaus Copernicus".
    
    But getting back to Sumner's method, if it was  so useful, why wasn't it
    adopted universally? Why were navigators on merchant  vessels shooting Noon Sun
    and time sights as late as the 1940s. I think there  are plenty of reasons, but
    I don't think it has much to do with navigators'  failure to see.
    
    -FER
    42.0N 87.7W, or 41.4N  72.1W.
    www.HistoricalAtlas.com/lunars
    
    
    

       
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