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Reflections on the Astronomy of GlasgowA story of some 500 years$
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David Clarke

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748678891

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748678891.001.0001

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Some Early Astronomy

Some Early Astronomy

(p.26) Chapter 2 Some Early Astronomy
Reflections on the Astronomy of Glasgow

David Clarke

Edinburgh University Press

The activities of the first local notable person related to Glasgow astronomy form this chapter. George Sinclair, Professor of Natural Philosophy, is known for his tracts on physics, astronomy, mathematics, religion and witchcraft. His chief astronomical text of 1688 on the ‘Celestial Sphere’ was ‘The Principles of Astronomy and Navigation’. He was notoriously accused of plagiarism on several occasions, particularly in claiming authorship of ‘Truth's Victory over Error’, a religious text simply translated from a Latin script of Dickson of Edinburgh. He wrote on the principles of coal mining, but it was suggested that he was better at ‘mining the minds of others’ rather than writing with originality. He observed Newton's Comet of 1681 but was taken to task by Professor Gregory of St Andrews on the uselessness of his observations. Other astronomical studies related to the secular movements of the Sun and Moon were also castigated in similar vain. He had a passion for understanding the behaviour of the barometer according to the weather and was the first person, at least in Scotland, to measure the heights of mountains by barometric pressure changes on their summits. He is also credited with inventing the diving bell for undersea wreck salvaging.

Keywords:   George Sinclair, Newton's Comet, The Celestial Sphere, Heights of mountains by barometric pressure change, The barometer, The diving bell, Witchcraft

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