The Beginning Of Astronomy

Mankind has long gazed toward the heavens, searching to put meaning and order to the universe around him. Although the movement of constellations — patterns imprinted on the night sky — were the easiest to track, other celestial events such as eclipses and the motion of planets were also charted and predicted.

Astronomy 101 – Early History of Astronomy

The study of our Universe is not new, the history of astronomy shows it to be the oldest science. People have been looking up, trying to explain the universe for as long as there have been people. The earliest Astronomers were priests and holy men, studying the movement of celestial bodies to determine celebrations and planting cycles.
Looking back in history, the ancient Greeks were the first to start developing theories about the design of the Universe (early science of astronomy).

Previous observations of the moon had already led to the knowledge that the Earth was round. When coupled with Plato’s assertion that the sphere was the perfect geometrical shape, the original Geocentric, or Earth-Centered view of the Universe was formed.

While many earlier observers in history believed the heavens were a giant bowl covering the Earth, this new philosophy, expounded by Astronomer Eudoxus and Philosopher Aristotle in the 4th century BC, said the sun, moon, and planets hung on concentric spheres, all surrounding the Earth. Read More…

Ancient Astronomy, Science And The Ancient Greeks

The Ancient Greeks were the driving force behind the development of western astronomy and science, their philosophers learning from the work of others and adding their own interpretations and observations.

In many older textbooks, the Ancient Greeks are often referred to as the fathers of ancient astronomy, developing elegant theories and mathematical formulae to describe the wonders of the cosmos, a word that, like so many others, came to us from the Greeks.

In fact, this assumption is incorrect and, whilst the Ancient Greek astronomers made huge contributions to astronomy, their knowledge was built upon the solid foundations laid by other great cultures. The Mesopotamian and Zoroastrian astronomers and astrologers, in the Fertile Crescent and the empty deserts of Persia, made many sophisticated observations and devised complex theories to describe cosmological phenomena. Read More…

Greek Astronomy

Astronomy is an area where the Greeks displayed a remarkable talent. Observational astronomy, which was the main form of astronomy elsewhere, was taken a step further in Greece: they attempted to build a model of the universe that could account for the observations. They explored all imaginable alternatives, they considered many different solutions for the various astronomical problems they came across. They not only anticipated many ideas of modern astronomy but also some of their ideas endured for around two millennia. Even at the time of Isaac Newton, some aspects of Aristotelian cosmology were still taught at the University of Cambridge.

Our knowledge of Greek astronomy before the 4th century BCE is very incomplete. We have just a few surviving writings, and most of what we know are references and comments form Aristotle, mostly opinions he is about to criticize. What is clear is that the earth was believed to be a sphere, and that there was an increasing effort to understand nature in purely natural term, without recourse to supernatural explanations. Read More…

History of Astronomy — The Romans

The Romans. The first Roman calendar was said to have been created by Romulus at the founding of Rome in 753 B.C.E. The original Roman calendar was based on the lunar month, and the year was thought to contain ten lunar months. Later, Numa Pompilius added the months January and February (Januarius and Februarius). Tarquinius Priscus (616-579 B.C.E.), an Etruscan king, made further refinements. His calendar was 355 days long, with an extra month after February every two years. This extra month was at first called Mercedinus, “payment for work,” and was a time when land leases were paid. Later, this extra month was known as Intercalans. The Pontifex Maximus would determine the length of Intercalans, to bring the calendar in line with the Solar Year. Read More…

Astronomers and spaceflight programs also contribute to the study of our own planet, when missions primed at looking outward (or travelling to the moon and beyond) look back and snap great pictures of Earth from space.

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