Making Stars Physical: The Astronomy of Sir John Herschel

Making Stars Physical: The Astronomy of Sir John Herschel

by Stephen Case

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Overview

Making Stars Physical offers the first extensive look at the astronomical career of John Herschel, son of William Herschel and one of the leading scientific figures in Britain throughout much of the nineteenth century. Herschel’s astronomical career is usually relegated to a continuation of his father, William’s, sweeps for nebulae. However, as Stephen Case argues, John Herschel was pivotal in establishing the sidereal revolution his father had begun: a shift of attention from the planetary system to the study of nebulous regions in the heavens and speculations on the nature of the Milky Way and the sun’s position within it.

Through John Herschel’s astronomical career—in particular his work on constellation reform, double stars, and variable stars—the study of stellar objects became part of mainstream astronomy. He leveraged his mathematical expertise and his position within the scientific community to make sidereal astronomy accessible even to casual observers, allowing amateurs to make useful observations that could contribute to theories on the nature of stars. With this book, Case shows how Herschel’s work made the stars physical and laid the foundations for modern astrophysics.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780822945307
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Publication date: 05/31/2018
Edition description: 1
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Stephen Case is an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Geosciences at Olivet Nazarene University, where he is also director of the Strickler Planetarium and serves as associate director of the university honors program.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction: Herschel's Stars 3

1 A Celestial Inheritance 17

2 Ledgers Full of Stars 32

3 Double Stars 55

4 Variable Stars 89

5 Nebulae 123

6 Light 167

7 A New Sublime Astronomy 199

Conclusion: Copernicus of the Sidereal Heavens 230

Notes 241

Bibliography 287

Index 309

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