Abstract

In a short interval toward the end of 1694, Isaac Newton developed two mathematical models for the theory of the astronomical refraction and calculated two refraction tables, but did not publish his theory. Much effort has been expended, starting with Biot in 1836, in the attempt to identify the methods and equations that Newton used. In contrast to previous work, a closed form solution is identified for the refraction integral that reproduces the table for his first model (in which density decays linearly with elevation). The parameters of his second model, which includes the exponential variation of pressure in an isothermal atmosphere, have also been identified by reproducing his results. The implication is clear that in each case Newton had derived exactly the correct equations for the astronomical refraction; furthermore, he was the first to do so.

© 2008 Optical Society of America

Full Article  |  PDF Article
OSA Recommended Articles
Astronomical Refraction–Some History and Theories

A. I. Mahan
Appl. Opt. 1(4) 497-511 (1962)

Speckle interferometry on the 2.5 m Isaac Newton telescope

D. R. Beddoes, J. C. Dainty, B. L. Morgan, and R. J. Scaddan
J. Opt. Soc. Am. 66(11) 1247-1251 (1976)

Atmospheric refraction: a history

Waldemar H. Lehn and Siebren van der Werf
Appl. Opt. 44(27) 5624-5636 (2005)

References

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Citation lists with outbound citation links are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription

Cited By

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Cited by links are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription

Figures (4)

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Figure files are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription

Tables (3)

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Article tables are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription

Equations (29)

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Equations are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription

Metrics

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Article level metrics are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription