Elements of Astronomy


Simon Newcomb

"Can an idea of the laws and phenomena of the celestial motions be conveyed to a pupil who has not completed the regular course in geometry and physics?" So writes Simon Newcomb in his preface to this thin (240 page) book on astronomy published in 1900. The pupil Newcomb had in mind was "the inquiring layman seeking to know something of the heavenly bodies and their relation to the earth, including such subjects of human interest as the changing seasons, the measurement of time, and the varying aspects of the planets."

Newcomb, of course, answered his question in the affirmative, and this book is his proof[1]. We reproduce here his "Chapter II" in its numbered sections:

Chapter II:

The Revolution of the Earth round the Sun

  1. The Earth as a Planet.
  2. Annual Motion of the Earth round the Sun.
  3. How the Sun shines on the Earth at Different Seasons.
  4. Apparent Motion of the Sun -- The Zodiac.
  5. Seasons in the Two Hemispheres.
  6. The Solar and Sidereal Years.
  7. Precession of the Equinoxes.