## 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

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