As one of the oldest scientific institutions in the United States, the US Naval Observatory has a rich and colourful history. This volume is, first and foremost, a story of the relations between space, time and navigation, from the rise of the chronometer in the United States to the Global Positioning System of satellites, for which the Naval Observatory provides the time to a billionth of a second per day. It is a story of the history of technology, in the form of telescopes, lenses, detectors, calculators, clocks and computers over 170 years. It describes how one scientific institution under government and military patronage has contributed, through all the vagaries of history, to almost two centuries of unparalleled progress in astronomy. Sky and Ocean Joined will appeal to historians of science, technology, scientific institutions and American science, as well as astronomers, meteorologists and physicists.
Steven J. Dick has worked as an astronomer and historian of science at the US Naval Observatory since 1979.
Acknowledgements; Abbreviations; Introduction; Prelude: perspectives and problems: the nation, the navy, the stars; Part I. The Founding Era, 1830-65: 1. From depot to national observatory, 1830-46; 2. A choice of roles: the Maury years, 1844-61; 3. Foundations of the American Nautical Almanac Office, 1849-65; 4. Gilliss and the Civil War years; Part II. The Golden Era, 1866-93: 5. Scientific life and work; 6. Asaph Hall, the great refractor and the moons of Mars; 7. William Harkness and the transits of Venus of 1874 and 1882; 8. Simon Newcomb and his work; Part III. The Twentieth Century: 9. Observatory circle: a new site and administrative challenges for the twentieth century; 10. Space: the astronomy of position and its uses; 11. Time: a service for the world; 12. Navigation: from stars to satellites; Summary; Select bibliographical essay; Appendices; Index.