The idea of measuring stellar aberration with a water-filled telescope was entertained from the middle of the 18th century by Thomas Melvill, Patrick Wilson, Roger Joseph Boscovich, and John Robison. I shall discuss their ideas as well as those discussed by Thomas Young, Francois Arago, and Augustin Fresnel in the beginning of the 19th century. None of these scientists actually performed this experiments. All except Boscovich came to realize that water-filled telescopes would lead to the same stellar aberration as an ordinary telescope. For Fresnel, moreover, it led to a precise value for the ether dragging, the ether being the very subtle medium through which light propagates.
Archive for History of Exact Sciences, 2000, Vol 54, p. 499-564
Vandfyldt kikkert, Thomas Melvill, James Bradley, Patrick Wilson, John Robison, Thomas Young, Francois Arago, Augustin Fresnel; Water filled Telescopes, Thomas Melvill, James Bradley, Patrick Wilson, John Robison, Francois Arago, Augustin Fresnel