Science & Technology Studies
University College London
Newton's 1702 Theory of the Moon
Gregory publishes the 'Theory'
Newton wrote the manuscript 'A Theory of the Moon' on February
27, 1700. Its date of composition comes from David Gregory, a reliable
source because of the reverence with which he recorded matters Newtonian.
His copy is in the library of the Royal Society, with the composition date
marked (the original is at the Cambridge Library). In the very month of
TMM's composition, Newton was confirmed as the Master of the Mint. On the
third of February, a royal edict proclaimed:
'Know yee that wee for divers
good causes...do give and grant unto Our trusty and Well beloved Subject
Isaac Newton Esqr. the office of Master and Worker of all our Moneys both
Gold and Silver within our Mint in our Tower of London and elsewhere in
our Kingdom of England ... And know yee that wee for the considerations
aforesaid have given and granted, and by these presents do give and grant
unto the said Isaac Newton all edifices, buildings, gardens, and other
fees, allowances, profitts, privileges, franchises and immunities belonging
to the aforesaid Office...'
It is remarkable that within weeks of acquiring such a responsible
position, one of the most demanding jobs in the country, Newton should
find time to ponder the niceties of lunar motion, and compose a brief but
obscure opus on the subject.TMM was first published in 1702, in Gregory's
Astronomiae Physicae. Its English translation in 1715 is here reproduced.
It then appeared in various other reprints (see Bibliography) totalling
seventeen different publications, Latin or English, in the eighteenth century
Craig Waff commented upon the historical irony that the
brief 1702 essay Theory of the Moon's Motion was 'probably the most
obscure of Newton's publications', and yet it 'appeared in print during
the early eighteenth century more times than anything else which left the
hand of Newton' (review of Cohen's book on TMM, 1977).
The facsimile presented here is extracted from:
David Gregory. 1715. The Elements of Astronomy,
Physical and Geometrical (London) in "Sir Isaac Newton's Theory of
the Moon," pp. 563-571.
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This facsimile page is reproduced
from David Gregory. 1715. The Elements of Astronomy, Physical and Geometrical
(London) in "Sir Isaac Newton's Theory of the Moon," pp. 563-571.
This site is a collaborative project
between myself and Dr Joe Cain in STS, UCL (editing and web design). Kollerstrom's
research is supported by a post-doctoral research scholarship from the
rev: May 1998