Mathematical Astronomical Morsels IV

Mathematical Astronomical Morsels IV

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By Jean Meeus.

Product Information: Hardbound, 6 by 9 inches, 373 pages.

In his Preface to Mathematical Morsels III Jean Meeus writes: We are living in a period of important astrophysical and cosmological research. Many astronomical journals and scientific books deal with subjects such as birth and evolution of stars, black holes, dark matter, gamma-ray bursts, supernova remnants or collisions between galaxies. Of course this is important matter, but one almost seems to have forgotten the `old' astronomy, the classical, mathematical science of the sky. And yet, without this fundamental astronomy modern research on the universe new would never have been possible.

And to this Roger Sinnott responded “In his Preface the author hints that some readers might accuse him of practicing “old” astronomy. Don't let that fool you. The problems he tackles would have fascinated astronomers of the early 20 th and prior centuries, but those poor souls faced a brick wall of computational difficulty. They had to work out all their answers laboriously, with a pencil and paper. Freed, from that limitation, the author uses today's computers to address each topic with a rigor and finesse beyond the wildest dreams of any old-time practitioner.

This conversation continues in this “Morsels IV” where Jean Meeus concludes his Preface as follows: Certainly this book will not make astronomy to progress. Rather, most subjects discussed in this book belong to what might be called recreational astronomy. While making the calculations and writing the text, we felt being as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote in The Hound of the Basikerville

A dabbler in science, Mr. Holes, a picker up of shells on the shores of the great unknown ocean.

And not too far into this book he cites Maurice Ravel's Une Barque sur l'Océan (a boat at sea) piano piece as launching point into a study of when a horizon skimming Moon might look like a boat at sea. Interested? Here are 68 more subjects that have washed upon the beach of Jean Meeus ' imagination.