Vesta was a lightning rod for controversy throughout the nineteenth century with observers arguing over its size and color, and the astounding notion that it was self-luminous. It was also a major force for change, as new methods in the field of celestial mechanics were developed to study the orbital perturbations it is subject to. A large selection of private correspondence and scientific papers complete the first comprehensive historical study of Vesta ever published.
With a synoptic look at the four asteroids, Ceres, Pallas, Juno and Vesta, Cunningham provides a valuable resource on asteroid origins and explains how they were integrated into the newly revealed solar system of the early nineteenth century.
When Juno was discovered no one could have imagined its study would call into question Newton’s law of gravity, or be the impetus for developing the mathematics of the fast Fourier transform by Carl Gauss. Clifford Cunningham, a dedicated scholar, opens to scrutiny this critical moment of astronomical discovery, continuing the story of asteroid begun in earlier volumes of this series.
The fascinating issues raised by the discovery of Juno take us on an extraordinary journey. The revelation of the existence of this new class of celestial bodies transformed our understanding of the Solar System, the implications of which are thoroughly discussed in terms of Romantic Era science, philosophy, poetry, mathematics and astronomy.
The account given here is based on both English and foreign correspondence and scientific papers, most of which are translated for the first time.