Astronomical Discovery

By Herbert Hall Turner | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
ACCIDENTAL DISCOVERIES

IN reviewing various types of astronomical discovery I have laid some stress upon the fact that they are, generally speaking, far from being accidental in character. A new planet does not "swim into our ken," at any rate not usually, but is found only after diligent search, and then only by an investigator of acute vision, or other special qualifications. But this is, of course, not always the case. Some discoveries are made by the merest accident, as we have had occasion to remark incidentally in the case of the minor planets; and for the sake of completeness it is desirable to include among our types at least one case of such accidental discovery. As, however, the selection is a little invidious, I may perhaps be pardoned for taking the instance from my own experience, which happens to include a case where one of those remarkable objects called "new stars" walked deliberately into a net spread for totally different objects. There is the further reason for choosing this instance: that it will afford me the opportunity of saying something about the special research in which we were actually engaged, the work of mapping out the heavens by photography,

-121-

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Astronomical Discovery
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword vii
  • Preface xi
  • Contents xiii
  • Chapter I - Uranus and Eros 1
  • Chapter II - The Discovery of Neptune 38
  • Chapter IV Accidental Discoveries 121
  • Chapter V Schwabe and the Sun-Spot Period 155
  • Chapter VI The Variation of Latitude 177
  • Index 221
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