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The Forefathers of Astronomy

The scientic revolution


occurred from roughly the late
16th century to the early 18th
This revolution brought about
radical changes in scientic
thought
The era is heralded as the
birth of modern science
The most important changes
occurred in the elds of
astronomy, physics, chemistry
and biology
The Forefathers of Astronomy
The most signicant change in
astronomy was the acceptance
of the view that the sun was
the center of the universe, not
the earth
Until the middle of the 16th
century, natural philosophers
[scientists] subscribed to the
views of Claudius Ptolemy
According to Ptolemys
observations in the 2nd
century AD the earth was
stationary and the sun, stars
and moon revolved around it
The Forefathers of Astronomy
Ptolemys observations did not
stop there
He observed that beyond the
planets existed a large sphere
which carried the xed stars
This theory popularized
astrology
Stars are xed and rotate
around the earth, the center of
the universe
Ptolemy also made
observations in physics
The Forefathers of Astronomy
He observed that the earth was
made up of the four great
elements, earth, air, water and
re
Of these elements, all things
were made
However, Ptolemy observed
that the stars and planets had
a fth element, ether
Ether was an eternal element
that could not be altered,
corrupted or destroyed
The Forefathers of Astronomy
Ptolemys writings formed the
basis of all astrological
thought for 1300 years
Many of hie theories held until
the late 18th century
His rst challenger was
Nicolaus Copernicus, a Polish
cleric
Copernicus observed the night
sky with his bare eyes and
concluded in 1543 in his book,
The Revolutions of Heavenly
Spheres, that the sun revolved
around the earth
The Forefathers of Astronomy
This purposed that the earth
was not the center of the
universe but that the sun was
The book was well circulated
but Copernicus writings were
difcult to understand
Only the highest educated, and
skilled mathematicians could
see what Copernicus was
describing
Many were also afraid of the
consequences of such radical
beliefs
The Forefathers of Astronomy
Danish astronomer Tycho
Brahe accepted Copernicus
theory but rejected the belief
that the sun was the center of
the universe
German astronomer Johannes
Kepler supported Brahes
views but conrmed
Copernicus theory as well
Keplers book however did not
reach a wide audience
It would take an Italian to
make the observations public
The Forefathers of Astronomy
Proof would come due to
innovations with glass
As far back as 3500 BC, the
Phoenicians discovered glass
when they cooked food on sand
Despite such a monumental
discovery, it would take an
additional 5000 years before
being shaped into the 1st
telescope
The Egyptians, Greeks and
Romans all knew of glass but
made little use of it
The Forefathers of Astronomy
Roman philosopher Seneca
mentioned reading all the
books of Rome by peering at
them through a glass globe of
water
Nero, it is written, observed
gladiatorial combats in the
coliseum by pressing his eye to
an emerald
True glasses did not come onto
the scene until about 1000 AD
when monks began using a
segment of a glass sphere
placed on paper to read
The Forefathers of Astronomy
Years later, in Venice Italy,
people put the rst glass
lenses into frames creating the
rst eyeglasses
Eyeglasses emerged between
1268 and 1289
Centuries later, in Holland,
Hans Lippershay c 1570-1619
constructed the rst spyglass
He was a spectacles maker
The Forefathers of Astronomy
The spyglass was very weak
and was likely never used to
gaze at the stars
It was used as a gimmick, a
toy
In 1608, Galileo Galilei in
Padua Italy heard of the device
He began constructing his own
for scientic observations
The Forefathers of Astronomy
Galileo spent many tedious
hours polishing glass lenses so
he could achieve the greatest
magnication possible
He then did something
unprecedented
He pointed it to the stars
Galileo rst looked at the
moon
Many believed the moon was
completely smooth
The Forefathers of Astronomy
Galileo however observed that
the moon was rough, it had
canyons, craters and
mountains
Then, by creating an ingenious
refractory device he observed
the sun
Later he pointed it to Venus
and then Jupiter
As Galileo wrote down what he
saw, he began noticing many
new things
The Forefathers of Astronomy
He noticed that the moon
changed over time
He saw that Venus changed
shape, similar to that of the
moon during its various phases
He saw the sun had spots on it
that moved across its surface
Jupiter had moon like earth but
they would disappear then
reappear
All of these discoveries would
make a major impact on the
scientic community
The Forefathers of Astronomy
Galileo had great literary skill,
something his predecessors
did not
He published in a book his
writings called, Dialogue
Concerning the Two Chief
World Systems
The dialogue was an argument
between two people between
the two systems of astrological
thought
The book was widely
recognized and converted
many to Galileos sun centered
theory
The Forefathers of Astronomy
In Galileos Dialogue, the
supporter of the Ptolemaic system
was Simplicio or the simple
minded one
The Catholic Pope, Pope Urban
VIII understood this to be himself
Galileos theories also challenged
the Bible itself
Soon, Galileo came under re by
the church and the inquisitors
took him to trial for heresy
The Catholic Church held their
views until 1822, they issued a
formal apology to Galileo in 1992
The Forefathers of Astronomy