Chapter

Introduction

I.S. Glass

in Nicolas-Louis De La Caille, Astronomer and Geodesist

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199668403
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191749315 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199668403.003.0001
Introduction

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La Caille helped to spread Newton's gravitational theory in France. Improved instruments and observational techniques had shown the inadequacy of Kepler's laws in describing planetary orbits. La Caille was an indefatigable calculator of planetary tables (ephemerides) and a zealous observer of stellar and planetary positions. His trip to the Cape of Good Hope was of central importance to his life's work. There he made a sky survey and defined new constellations including Mons Mensa, named after Table Mountain. His success was partly due to his friendship with the Dutch governor and certain colonists. His expedition was extremely fruitful and enhanced his reputation. His incessant labour probably shortened his life.

Keywords: Newtonian theory; Human calculator; planetary tables; ephemerides; Cape of Good Hope; Mensa; Table Mountain

Chapter.  1657 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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