Welcome to Newton and the MoonDepartment of
Science & Technology Studies
University College London

Nicholas Kollerstrom's
Newton and the Moon WebSite 


This page is intended to introduce you to the Newton and the Moon WebSite and its key features.

"Newton and the Moon" is designed for astronomy and history of science students, enabling them to recreate some of the earliest British astronomical theories related to lunar motion: from Jeremiah Horrocks (at the dawn of the 17th-C) to Edmund Halley (in the early 18th-C), when the great quest to find longitude was in full swing. Newton's contribution to this work is presented here in its full historical context. The connections to his gravity theory also are developed in detail.

One unique feature of this WebSite is the pair of computer simulations that reconstruct lunar theories presented by Isaac Newton and John Flamsteed (Flamsteed was Britain's first Astronomer Royal). Using data from the actual historical sources, students  not only can recreate their computations but also can see, first hand, how the calculations worked. They also can check how the accuracy of these computations against modern computer programs (kindly supplied by Jean Meeus especially for this WebSite) for the same phenomenon.

This WebSite grows from my 1995 dissertation from University College London. That dissertation focused on Newton's 1702 recipie for finding lunar longitude. Here I reconstructed the computational steps in his lunar theory. Of surprise to me was the fact that in the first half of the 18th-C -- all across Europe -- astronomers were applying this recipie as the best lunar theory available. Previously, historians of science has missed this important point.

We've worked to create a visually interesting site to complement the intellectual challenges. We assume viewers will use SVGA or other high resolution/colour screens. If visual quality is poor, you might consider viewing with a different hardware configuration.

During the creation of this site, I had a generous postdoctoral fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust.

The contents of this page remain the copyrighted, intellectual property of Nicholas Kollerstrom.  Details.

rev: February 1998