A talented mathematician trained at Trinity College, Dublin, Sir
Robert Stawell Ball (1840-1913) was best known in the early
twentieth century for his immensely popular books on astronomy. He
also gave the Royal Institution's Christmas Lectures on five
occasions. First published in 1905, this concise guide to the
basics of astronomy assumes almost no prior knowledge of the
subject. Beginning with simple phenomena such as the seasons and
the effects of atmospheric refraction, Ball expands quickly into
month-by-month indexes of the night sky, star charts, and
explanations of some of the lesser-known stellar and solar
features, from the paths of sunspots to details of the major
nebulae. Including over eighty pages of meticulous charts and
illustrations, his book remains an excellent resource for students
in the history of science, and interested laypeople. Also reissued
in this series are The Story of the Heavens (1885) and Star-Land
(1889), alongside Ball's more technical Treatise on Spherical
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