Sky and Ocean Joined: The U. S. Naval Observatory, 1830-2000

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This volume is, first and foremost, a story of the relations between space, time and navigation, from the rise of the chronometer in the U.S. to the Global Positioning System of satellites, for which the Naval Observatory provides the time to a billionth of a second per day. It is a story of the history of technology, in the form of telescopes, lenses, detectors, calculators, clocks and computers over 170 years. It describes how one scientific institution under government and military patronage has contributed, through all the vagaries of history, to almost two centuries of unparalleled progress in astronomy.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
" historical tour-de-force, and I thoroughly recommend it to everyone interested in U.S. astronomical history, positional astronomy, national observatories, naval history, navigation, time-keeping, or the conflict involving civilian and military control of science." Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage

"It provides insight for scholars and general readers interested in naval history and navigation, timekeeping, positional astronomy, and celestial mechanics, and it charts the relationship between astronomy and astrophysics, the rise of national observatories and military patronage." Bulletin of Science Technology and Society

"An amazingly comprehensive and detailed history of the oldest major astronomical observatory in the United States, this excellent book offers mature readers fascinating stories of scientific discoveries (e.g. of the moons of Mars and Pluto), technological developments (e.g. from mechanical clocks working before there were any time zones to today's satellites that provide nanaosecond accuracies worldwide), and personal and political struggles (both governmental and institutional)." Science Books & Films

"Sky and Ocean Joined is quite well written and will certainly appeal to historians of science and technology, as well as naval enthusiasts, physicists, and anyone generally interested in astronomy." Stardust

"Extensively researched over 15 years, this book is well written and well documented with footnotes, select bibliographic essays, appendixes, and indexes. Recommended." Choice

"Sky and Ocean Joined is an outstanding book." Technology and Culture, Robert W. Smith

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521037501
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 7/12/2007
  • Pages: 624
  • Product dimensions: 6.85 (w) x 9.72 (h) x 1.26 (d)

Meet the Author

Steven J. Dick has worked as an astronomer and historian of science at the U. S. Naval Observatory since 1979.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Prelude: Perspectives and problems: The nation, the Navy, the stars 5
Pt. I The founding era, 1830-65
Ch. 1 From Depot to National Observatory, 1830-46 27
Ch. 2 A choice of roles: the Maury years, 1844-61 60
Ch. 3 Foundations of the American Nautical Almanac Office, 1849-65 118
Ch. 4 Gilliss and the Civil-War years 140
Pt. II The golden era, 1866-93
Ch. 5 Scientific life and work 163
Ch. 6 Asaph Hall, the Great Refractor, and the moons of Mars 206
Ch. 7 William Harkness and the transits of Venus of 1874 and 1882 238
Ch. 8 Simon Newcomb and his work 274
Pt. III The twentieth century
Ch. 9 Observatory Circle: A new site and administrative challenges for the twentieth century 295
Ch. 10 Space: The astronomy of position and its uses 358
Ch. 11 Time: A service for the world 451
Ch. 12 Navigation: From stars to satellites 504
Summary 549
Select bibliographical essay 561
App. 1: Sources 567
App. 2 Superintendents, Scientific Directors, and Department Directors of the U.S. Naval Observatory 572
App. 3 Selected astronomical instrumentation and standard clocks at the U.S. Naval Observatory, 1844-2000 580
App. 4 U.S. Naval Observatory: Six generations of selected personnel 582
App. 5 Key legislation related to the Naval Observatory and Nautical Almanac Office 584
Index 586
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