In the field of celestial calculations, Jean Meeus has enjoyed wide acclaim and respect since long before microcomputers and pocket calculators appeared on the market. When he brought out his Astronomical Formulae for Calculators in 1979, it was practically the only book of its genre. It quickly became the “source among sources,” even for other writers in the field. Many of them have warmly acknowledged their debt (or should have), citing the unparalleled clarity of his instructions and the rigor of his methods.
And now this Belgian astronomer has outdone himself yet again with Astronomical Algorithms! Virtually every previous handbook on celestial calculations (including his own earlier work) was forced to rely on formulae for the Sun, Moon, and planets that were developed in the last century — or at least before 1920. The past 10 years, however, have seen a stunning revolution in how the world’s major observatories produce their almanacs. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California and the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., have perfected powerful new machine methods for modeling the motions and interactions of bodies within the solar system. At the same time in Paris, the Bureau des Longitudes has been a beehive of activity aimed at describing these motions analytically, in the form of explicit equations.
Yet until now the fruits of this exciting work have remained mostly out of reach of ordinary people. The details have existed mainly on reels of magnetic tape in a form comprehensible only to the largest brains, human or electronic. But Astronomical Algorithms changes all that. With his special knack for computations of all sorts, the author has made the essentials of these modern techniques available to us all.
The second edition contains new chapters about the Jewish and Moslem Calendars, and on the satellites of Saturn, and a new Appendix giving expressions (polynomials) for the heliocentric coordinates of the giant planets Jupiter to Neptune from 1998 to 2025.
Meeus studied mathematics at the University of 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.