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The Lunar Theories of Tycho Brahe and Christian Longomontanus in the Progymnasmata and Astronomia Danica

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Tycho Brahe's lunar theory, mostly the work of his assistant Christian Longomontanus, published in the Progymnasmata (1602), was the most advanced and accurate lunar theory yet developed. Its principal innovations are: the introduction of equant motion for the first inequality in order to separate the determination of direction and distance; a more accurate limit for the second inequality although requiring a more complex calculation; additional inequalities of the variation and, in place of the annual inequality in Tycho's earlier theory, a reduction in the equation of time; in the latitude theory a variation of the inclination of the orbital plane and an inequality of the motion of the nodes; a reduction in the range of variation of distance, parallax, and apparent diameter. Some of these were already present in Tycho's earlier lunar theory (1599), but all were changed in notable ways. Twenty years later Longomontanus published a modified version of the lunar theory in Astronomia Danica (1622), for the purpose of facilitating the calculation through new correction tables, and also explained his reasons for parts of the theory in the Progymnasmata. This paper is a technical study of both lunar theories.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA

Publication date: 2009-01-01

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