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Astronomical Tables of the Sun, Moon and Planets, Third Edition by Jean Meeus. Hardbound, 6" by 9", 487 pages, $34.95.
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For more than a generation amateur and professional astronomers have turned to Astronomical Tables of the Sun, Moon and Planets by Jean Meeus as an autoritative source for many of the past and future predictable astronomical events. This third edition now extends the data into the period of 2040–2050 as detailed below in the Table of Contents.

From the Reviews of the First Edition

“This is a magnificent book. It must remain the standard for the coming century at least, and no serious astronomical library will be complete without it. Jean Meeus has rendered astronomy a notable service.’’
— Patrick Moore, Journal of the British Astronomical Society

Winner of a coveted “Astronomical Book of the Year 1983 award’’ in Mercury, the journal of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

Table of Contents

Note on Time Reckoning

Part 1: Planetary Phenomena 2010–2040

  • Inferior conjunctions of Mercury with the Sun A.D. 2010–2040
  • Superior conjunctions of Mercury with the Sun A.D. 2010–2040
  • Greatest elongations of Mercury 2010–2040, that is when the angular distance between Mercury and the center of the Sun’s disk, as seen from the Earth, is at maximum.
  • Inferior conjunctions of Venus 1980–2040
  • Superior conjunctions of Venus 1978–2040
  • Greatest elongations of Venus 2010–2040, that is when the angular distance between Venus and the center of the Sun’s disk, as seen from the Earth, is at maximum.
  • Oppositions of Mars 1980–2040, Jupiter 2000–2040,  Saturn 2000–2040, Uranus 2000–2040, Neptune 2000–2040 and Pluto 2000–2040 are presented as individual tables with the following data: Calendar date and the Universal Time of the geometric opposition in celestial longitude. “Geometric” means that the effects of light-time and of aberration have not been taken into accountcommon heliocentric longitude of the planet and the Earth at the time of opposition, referred to the mean equinox of the date. Apparent geocentric declination at the time of opposition. The effects of light-time, aberration and nutation have been taken into account here. Visual magnitude at the time of opposition (except for Pluto). The instant (calendar date and UT) when nearest to the Earth. Value of this least distance, respectively in astronomical units (a.u.) and in millions of kilometers (m.k.). Value of the apparent diameter at the time of least distance to the Earth. For Jupiter and Saturn, the equatorial diameter is given. This information is not given for Pluto.
  • Conjunctions of the superior planets with the Sun 2000–2040
  • Earth in perihelion and in aphelion and the corresponding values of the radius vector expressed in astronomical units  (1 a.u. = 149 597 870 km).
  • Mars in perihelion and in aphelion and the corresponding values of the radius vector expressed in astronomical units  (1 a.u. = 149 597 870 km).
  • The outer planets in perihelion and in aphelion passages of the outer planets, and the corresponding values of the radius vector. (Jupiter 1975–2040, Saturn and Uranus 1900–2050, Neptune 1850–2100).
  • Mars in ascending node and in descending node 1979–2040 Zero and extreme heliocentric latitudes of the outer planets  (Jupiter 1990-2040, Saturn 1960–2040, Uranus 1940–2040, Neptune 1900–2050, and Pluto 1900–2080)
  • Zero and extreme declinations of the planets (Venus 1970–2040, Mars 1900–2040, Jupiter 1990–2040, Saturn–Uranus 1989–2040, Neptune 1986–2040, and Pluto 1946–2040.
  • Extreme declinations of the Sun 1991–2040.
  • Planetary conjunctions (geocentric) 2010–2040.
  • Close planetary conjunctions 2013–2039.
  • Quasi-conjunctions (within 5° with instants and the values of the least separations) 2011–2040.
  • Heliocentric conjunctions between the outer planets 1980–2040.
  • Oppositions of the 10 brightest minor planets 1980–2060 (Ceres, Pallas, Juno,Vesta, Hebe, Iris, Flora, Eunomi, Melpomene and Eros).
  • Eclipse series of Callisto 1901–2072.
  • Passages of Earth and Sun through the ring-plane of Saturn 1612–2202

Part 2: Oppositions of Mars 0–3000

  • Provided are the calendar date (year, month, day of the month) and the Dynamical Time (TD) of the instant of opposition, this being the instant when the true heliocentric longitudes of the Earth and Mars, referred to the mean equinox of the date, are equal. Hence, the times are those of the geometric oppositions of Mars. The apparent opposition occurs approximately 7 minutes later than the geometric opposition, by reason of the aberration of light and the effect of light-time; the geocentric apparent declination of Mars at the time of the opposition. The calendar date and the Dynamical Time (TD) of the instant of Mars’ least distance to the Earth along with the value of this least distance, in astronomical units (a.u.) and in millions of kilometers (m.k.); and finally, the planet’s apparent diameter in seconds of arc at the instant of minimum distance, the adopted diameter at unit distance being 9O.36

Part 3: Equinoxes and Solstices 1–3000

  • These are the instants when the apparent longitude of the Sun's center (that is, calculated by including the effects of aberration and nutation) is an exact multiple of 90 degrees. The instants are given to the nearest second of time, and they are expressed in Dynamical Time. For each equinox and solstice, the day of the month is given first, followed by the hours, minutes, and seconds. The tabulated times can be converted into Universal Time by subtracting the quantity Delta T = TD ! UT, as explained elsewhere in the book.

Part 4: Phases of the Moon 1970–2050

  • Provides, to the nearest second of time, the instants of the Moon’s phases. These instants are expressed in Dynamical Time. The tabulated times can be converted to Universal Time by subtracting the quantity Delta T, as explai­ned elsewhere in the book. By definition, the times of New Moon, First Quarter, Full Moon and Last Quarter are the times at which the excess of the apparent longitude of the Moon (i.e. affected by the nutation and the effect of light-time) over the apparent longitude of the Sun is 0, 90, 180, and 270 degrees, respectively.

Part 5: Occultations of Planets and Bright Stars 2010–2040

  • This is a chronological list of all occultations of first-magnitude stars and of planets by the Moon taking place during the period 2010 − 2040. For reason of completeness, all occultations are given, even those which occur at a small angular distance from the Sun and thus are not observable. Also given is the nearest integer hour T0 (Dynamical Time) of the least geocentric angular distance between the center of the Moon and that of the body; the visual stellar magnitude of the occulted star or planet; for the stars, the magnitudes are those of the RHP (Revised Harvard Photometry). For the planets, they have been calculated from the classical formulae by G. Müller (1893). The elongation of the occulted body from the Sun, at the time T0, in degrees with E = East from the Sun = visible in the evening and W = West from the Sun = visible in the morning. Least distance from the axis of the lunar ‘shadow’ to the center of the Earth, are expressed in units of the Earth's equatorial radius. Finally, the region of visibility on the Earth's surface is briefly described. However, no distinction is made between events taking place during the night and events in daylight. For example, the occultation of Aldebaran on 2036 April 1 is said to be visible in Europe; in fact, it will take place in daylight there. The descriptions are, of course, necessarily short and not many details can be given. For instance, an occultation stated to be visible in Africa is not necessarily visible from each point of this continent.

Part 6: Sunspot Activity 1749–2014

  • In a series of tables the following is provided: Yearly means of the definitive Zürich sunspot numbers, from 1749 to 2014. Monthly means of the definitive Zürich sunspot numbers, from January 1749 to December 2014 and, for the same period, the smoothed monthly means, based on the definitive Zürich sunspot numbers, but calculated by means of the formula advocated by J. Meeus (Ciel et Terre, Vol. 74, 445-449; November-December 1958). In this formula, a greater weight is given to the central months. The epochs of maxima and minima of the sunspot activity are presented to the nearest tenth of a year, as calculated by the method used at the Swiss Federal Observatory. The same epochs, but deduced from the data of by J. Meeus considering the month having the highest (or lowest) smoothed mean as the epoch of the sunspot maximum (or minimum). The corresponding smoothed means are also given; the month(s) with the highest or lowest monthly mean. The monthly and yearly numbers of spotless days, that is, days with R = 0, in the period 1850 to 2014. For the years not mentioned in the table, there were no spotless days. Finally, the dates of the beginning of the Sun’s synodic rotations, as seen from the Earth, from A.D. 1981 to 2040, to the nearest 0.01 day (Universal Time).

Part 7: Other Tables

  • Table for calculating the Julian Day
  • Perpetual Calendar
  • Date of Easter Sunday, 1583–2119
  • Jewish Calendar, 2010–204
  • Moslem Calendar, 2010–2040
  • Perigee and Apogee of the Moon, 2010–2040
  • Table for calculating the illuminated fraction of the Moon’s disk
  • Table for calculating the selenographic colongitude of the Sun
  • Inferior conjunctions of Venus, 0–2500
  • Superior conjunctions of Venus, 0–2500
  • Oppositions of Jupiter, 0–2500
  • Oppositions of Saturn, 0–2500
  • Transits of Mercury 1600–2300
  • Transits of Venus 0–4000
  • Solar Eclipses, 1951–2050
  • Lunar Eclipses, 1951–2050
  • Equinoxes and Solstices on Mars 1646–2060
  • Positions of the 51 bright zodiacal stars –2000 to +2800
  • Conjunctions of the Sun with 10 bright zodiacal stars

About the Author

Jean Meeus, born in 1928, studied mathematics at the University of Louvain (Leuven) in Belgium, where he received the Degree of Licentiate in 1953. From then until his retirement in 1993 he was a meteorologist at Brussels Airport. His special interest is spherical and mathematical astronomy. He is a member of several astronomical associations and the author of many scientific papers. He is co-author of Canon of Solar Eclipses (1966, 1983), and the Canon of Lunar Eclipses (1979). His Astronomical Formulae for Calculators (1979, 1982, 1985 and 1988) has been widely acclaimed by both amateur and professional astronomers. He is, with Fred Espenak, one of the authors of Five Millennium Canon of Solar Eclipses (2006) and Five Millennium Canon of Lunar Eclipses (2009). Further works, published by Willmann-Bell, Inc., are Elements of Solar Eclipses 1951–2200 (1989), Transits (1989), Astronomical Algorithms (1991, 1998), and the 5-volume Mathematical Astronomy Morsels series (1997, 2002, 2004, 2007, and 2009). For his numerous contributions to astronomy the International Astronomical Union announced in 1981 the naming of asteroid 2213 Meeus in his honor.

About the Cover Photograph

Not all astronomical tables need be written in the familiar tabular form. Here Dennis di Cicco recorded, on a single piece of photographic film, the apparent movement of the sun along the ecliptic for a period of one year. The result—an analemma—is sometimes seen drawn on globes of the world or incorporated into the design of sundials. The camera was rigidly mounted in the same position throughout the year. Using a filter to block all but the sun, 44 separate exposures were made at about seven-day intervals and at precisely 8:30 A.M. EST. Three times during the year, the camera’s shutter was opened at sunrise and closed at 8:25 A.M. EST. The resultant streaks show the diurnal path of the sun near the time of the summer and winter solstices, and the analemma’s crossover point. Finally, to record foreground detail and the background of the sky a normal exposure was made. All told there were a total of 48 exposures. Dennis di Cicco told the fascinating story of how this picture was made in “Exposing the Analemma’’ in the June 1979 issue of Sky and Telescope magazine.