Flamsteed's Alleged Measurement of Annual Parallax for the Pole Star

  title={Flamsteed's Alleged Measurement of Annual Parallax for the Pole Star},
  author={Mark Williams},
  journal={Journal for the History of Astronomy},
  pages={102 - 116}
  • M. Williams
  • Published 1 June 1979
  • Physics
  • Journal for the History of Astronomy
Introduction The problem of detecting annual parallax among the stars was of concern to most astronomers of the late seventeenth century. Genuine observation of parallax would provide strong support for Copernicus's claim that the Earth moves and, of greater importance by this time, an accurate measurement of parallax could be used to determine stellar distances. During the second half 01 the century various attempts were made to measure parallax: Robert Hooke claimed a value of 27-30" for the… 

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quod Angulus SIE (Iatitudo stellae Polaris ab Ecliptica in Mense Junio) minor est quam SDE(latitudo visa in Dec) & proinde ejusdam declinatio minor est, & distantia a Polo major
  • Mense Junio, quam in alio quovis Anni Mense
When the minimum distance is being measured, the star is between the vertical and the Pole, and as the effect of precession is such that the star appears to be moving towards the Pole
    Professor Forbes kindly let me see a
    • An account of the Rev'd John Flamsteed (hereafter cited as Baily, Account
    Professor Forbes also kindly let me see his transcript of this letter from the copy belonging to the Royal Greenwich Observatory
      Bradley's own account of the discovery of aberration may be found in his
      • Philosophical transactions, xxxv
      Praelectiones astronomicae (Cambridge, 1707)
        This effect is due to a slight shift of the Earth's axis brought about mainly through the gravitational attraction of the Sun and Moon. For a detailed account see Smart, op, cit
          These letters are reproduced together with Flamsteed's replies in Baily, Account