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The Mathematical Theory of Eclipses, according to Chauvenet's Transformation of Bessel's Method

Nature volume 71, pages 244245 (12 January 1905) | Download Citation



WHEN a practical man devotes himself to the task of explaining to others the difficulties of any specialised subject on which he has been engaged for many years, the result is likely to be satisfactory. There is always the chance that the prolonged study of one particular subject has had the effect of unduly exalting its importance, with the consequent loss of a proper perspective, and when one sees a comparatively narrow branch of astronomical inquiry, like eclipses, occupying a rather ponderous volume, he may be led to think that the subject has been indiscreetly expanded. We therefore hasten to say that there is no evidence of disproportionate treatment in Mr. Buchanan's book. He himself has been employed for twenty-three years in the office of the “American Ephemeris and Nautical Almanac,” and during that time has been responsible for the accurate preparation of the necessary information connected with eclipse prediction. His practical acquaintance with the subject eminently fits him for the task he has undertaken, and his book is a success. The moon's nodes have made more than one complete revolution since he began his work, and an entire series of eclipses has revealed to him their peculiarities and oddities.

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