This book takes its origin in a course of lectures on the history and progress of Astronomy arranged for me in the year 1887 by three of my colleagues (A.C.B., J.M., G.H.R.), one of whom gave the course its name. The lectures having been found interesting, it was natural to write them out in full and publish. If I may claim for them any merit, I should say it consists in their simple statement and explanation of scientific facts and laws. The biographical details are compiled from all readily available sources, there is no novelty or originality about them; though it is hoped that there may be some vividness. I have simply tried to present a living figure of each Pioneer in turn, and to trace his influence on the progress of thought. I am indebted to many biographers and writers, among others to Mr. E.J.C. Morton, whose excellent set of lives published by the S.P.C.K. saved me much trouble in the early part of the course
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