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Aims of Astronomy of Precision1

Nature volume 85, pages 323327 (05 January 1911) | Download Citation



THE science of precise physical measurement is one which does not readily appeal to those not immediately concerned, either with the methods or results. An authoritative statement that the sun's distance from the earth is 92,880,000 miles may excite wonder, but scarcely more than will the statement that it is approximately 93,000,000, except in the minds of those who are in some measure acquainted with the laborious processes by which the two extra figures are derived. In fact, I have not infrequently heard the methods of observation used described by some such epithet as “hair-splitting.” For this reason I think I cannot do better to-night than to describe to you, without entering into technical details of the methods employed, some of the aims and objects to which modern astronomy of precision is devoted, and which render essential none but the highest refinements that human ingenuity can devise.


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    From the presidential address delivered before the Royal Society of South Africa on April 20, 1910, by . Published in the Transactions of the Society, vol. ii., part i.

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