Books  General Natural History  History of Science 

Mechanism of the Heavens

Series: Cambridge Library Collection - Physical Sciences

By: Pierre Simon Laplace (Author), Mary Somerville (Translated by)

623 pages, b/w illustrations

Cambridge University Press

Paperback | Jul 2009 | #229731 | ISBN-13: 9781108001571
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £45.99 $56/€52 approx

About this book

A reprint of a classical work in the Cambridge Library Collection.

Published in 1831, this work forms part of a collection of introductory volumes suggested by Henry, Lord Brougham and Vaux, the Lord Chancellor, for the Society of the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. Due to the exceptional mathematical ability of its author, however, it outgrew its original plan and has since been seen as a rather more ambitious project.

Praised by Somerville's contemporary Sir John Herschel for its presentation of general astronomical theories and the mechanical principles employed in their derivation, the work was a tour de force of scientific and technical exposition. It is especially remarkable both for its author's firm grasp of the subject, especially given her lack of formal mathematical training, and for its clear outline of Newtonian philosophy for a popular audience.


Preliminary dissertation

Book I:
1. Definitions, axioms, etc.
2. Variable motion
3. Equilibrium of a system of bodies
4. Motion of a system of bodies
5. The motion of a solid body of any form whatever
6. On the equilibrium of fluids
7. Motion of fluids

Book II:
1. Progress of astronomy
2. On the law of universal gravitation
3. On the differential equations of the motion of a system of bodies
4. On the elliptical motion of the planets
5. Theory of the perturbation of the planets
6. Secular inequalities of the elements of the orbits
7. Periodic variations in the elements of the planetary orbits
8. Perturbations of the planets
9. Second method of finding the perturbations of a planet
10. The theory of Jupiter and Saturn
11. Inequalities occasioned by the ellipticity of the sun
12. Perturbations in the motions of the planets occasioned by the action of their satellites
13. Data for computing the celestial motions
14. Numerical values of the perturbation of Jupiter

Book III:
1. Lunar theory
2. Numerical values of the coefficients
3. Inequalities from the form of the earth
4. Inequalities from the action of the planets
5. Effects of the secular variation in the plane of the ecliptic
6. Effects of an ethereal medium on the motions of the moon

Book IV:
1. Theory of Jupiter's satellites
2. First approximation
3. Second approximation
4. Inequalities of the eccentricities
5. Inequalities of the disturbing force
6. Theory of Jupiter's satellites (continued)
7. Perturbation of the satellites in latitude
8. Numerical versions of the perturbations
9. Eclipses of Jupiter's satellites


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