Astronomical Discovery

By Herbert Hall Turner | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
SCHWABE AND THE SUN-SPOT PERIOD

IN preceding chapters we have reviewed discoveries, some of which have been made as a result of a deliberate search, and others accidentally in the course of work directed to a totally different end; but so far we have not considered a case in which the discoverer entered upon an enterprise from which he was positively dissuaded.

In the next chapter we shall come across a very striking instance of this type; but even in the discovery that there was a periodicity in the solar spots, with which I propose to deal now, Herr Schwabe began his work in the face of deterrent opinions from eminent men. His definite announcement was first made in 1843, though he had himself been convinced some years earlier. In 1857 the Royal Astronomical Society awarded him their gold medal for the discovery; and in the address delivered on the occasion the President commenced by drawing attention to this very fact, that astronomers who had expressed any opinions on the subject had been uniformly and decidedly against the likelihood of there being anything profitable in the study of the solar spots. I will quote the exact words

-155-

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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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