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					 A brief history of Astronomy

Or, a few thousand years
of European History in a
     few minutes…..
• Lived 384-322 BCE
• Born and lived in Greece.
• Studied with PLATO.
• Established his own
• He was an expert on many topics.
• His academy laid the basis of LOGIC,
• Many of their theories later proved FALSE!

    • Lived about 100-190 CE
    • Probably lived in Egypt, nobody knows for sure.
    • Was a prominent Astronomer, Geographer and
    • Developed the theory of EPICYCLES.
    • Promoted the GEOCENTRIC theory of the
 This is one of Ptolemy’s famous
      diagrams, showing his
conceptualization of the universe.
Here’s a drawing he made showing
 his idea of an “epicycle” for Mars.
Here’s an image of Ptolemy making

                   What do you
                   think he is
                   looking at?
        Nicholas Copernicus
• Lived 1473-1543
• Born and lived in Poland.
• Initiated a scientific revolution but didn’t
  live to see it. His first book was published
  the year he died.
• Proposed a simpler, Heliocentric model.
• Model still flawed because orbits
  considered perfectly Circular.
Nicholas Copernicus
      Tyco Brahe
• Lived 1546 – 1601
• Born to a prominent family.
• Loved learning and studying.
• Invested his own money to
  build the best observation
  equipment available.
• Became the Royal
  Astronomer to the King of
  Denmark. Got his own island
  for this! Lived and studied
  there for 20 years.
              Tyco Brahe
• Tyco was very eccentric.
• Eventually fell out of favor with the King
  and moved to Prague.
• He is said to have had his nose cut off in a
• Invented many observation tools used by
• On his death, he passed all his data to his
            Galileo Galilei
• Lived 1564-1642
• Lived in various places in Italy.
• Manufactured the best telescopes yet!
• Turned the telescope to the heavens and
  observed things that had never been seen.
• Galileo devised many experiments that
  disproved Aristotle’s worldview.
• Galileo is considered the “father” of
  modern Physics.
            Galileo Galilei
• Galileo believed that people could learn
  about nature by observing nature, not just
  by studying scripture.
• That view put him at odds with the
  Catholic Church.
• Galileo had to “recant” his writings and
  spent his later years under house arrest.
          Johannes Kepler
• Lived 1571-1630
• Was Tyco Brahe’s assistant!
• Believed in the Copernican model.
• Used Tyco’s data to support his belief.
• Proposed three “Laws” of planetary
• These laws were among the first “Natural
  Laws” published.
Johannes Kepler
        Kepler was deeply
        religious but he was a
        Protestant so he did not
        feel bound by the
        Catholic Church. His
        theory moved Earth
        from the center of the
        Universe and Solar
        System, thus putting
        him at odds with Rome.
          Johannes Kepler
• Invented many more observing techniques
  and devices.
• First to Propose the idea that planetary
  orbits are ELLIPTICAL, not CIRCULAR.
          Sir Isaac Newton
• Lived 1643-1727
• Lived in England
• Was a genius! Solved many
  of the important problems of
  his time.
• Made important discoveries
  in Optics, Fluid physics,
  Mechanics, and Astronomy.
         Sir Isaac Newton
• Newton’s three Laws of Motion are
  taught in Physics classes to this day.
• Law of Gravitation finally provided an
  explanation of the motions of planets,
  not just a description.
• He came up with important theories
  during an extended break from school.
  (Universities were closed due to the

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