Early Day Astronomers and Their Influences In Astronomy




In modern day astronomy and the study of the universe, individuals usually come up with predictions and then gather information and data in order to prove or disprove their hypothesis. Other astronomers in the history of astronomy did the same and came up with their own conclusions based on the data they collected. Some of their predictions were correct, and some were way off, but for the most part they progressed the study of the universe to the point where society is today. Astronomers such as Ptolemy, Copernicus, Brahe, …Today’s astronomers are making giant steps in the discoveries of new theories and proving or disproving their thoughts all with the help of foundations set by past astronomers.

Ptolemy created the first geocentric model of the solar system that stood in place for over a thousand years. The thought of placing the Earth in the center of the universe made perfect sense for several reasons. The first reason was that the inhabitants of the Earth felt as if they were standing still and not rotating or revolving around any object. Because of the fact that the idea of an atmosphere was not thought of until the future, this was a very good explanation that could not be argued. Another explanation of the Earth being the center of the solar system is that parallaxes involved with the stars showed that the Earth was not moving because technology at the time could not pick up the extremely small increments of movement by the Earth.

Ptolemy also discovered epicycles, which explained retrograde motion. Ptolemy could predict where the planets were going to be even hundreds of years after he died, proving the accurate nature of his maps. There were several problems with Ptolemy’s calculations and maps. His principles were based entirely of mathematics and had nothing to do with physical principles. Math was the only thing that he used to predict and explain his theories, something which caused a tremendous problem with his models. He also had to develop a different type of epicycle for Mercury and Venus, most likely because they are locating inside the Earth as astronomers know today. He also had to offset the Earth on his maps due to an increase in speed by the other planets. His maps of the epicycles of Mercury also became very complex in order to make them work mathematically. Even with all the mistakes that Ptolemy had, he still progressed the field of astronomy for years to come and inspired others to continue research.

Nicholas Copernicus, born in 1473, introduced society into the idea of the sun being the center of the universe and the planets revolving around it. Copernicus’ theory came about because the idea was aesthetically pleasing and satisfied religious beliefs that the sun was the source of life and energy s it should be in the center and have everything revolve around it. Copernicus said that the Earth’s rotation made the sun and stars rotate about. He said that the air above the surface rotated as well so there would be no draft as the Earth spun through space. This was the beginning thought of an atmosphere. He said the Earth orbits around the sun and that the moon orbits the Earth.

Copernicus assumed that the orbits of the planets were circular as Ptolemy had discovered year’s back. He also assumed that planets closer to the sun orbited faster and that was the primary cause of retrograde motion. A planet passing by and forging ahead in orbit would cause for retrograde motion to take place.

There were several flaws in the Copernican system as well due to several reasons. One reason was that he assumed that the planets orbited in a circular fashion, just like Ptolemy. Copernicus really made no significant break through with his theories because he couldn’t predict where the planets were going to be because of the fact that his model was based on the same principles as Ptolemy. The only help that Copernicus provided was that Mercury and Venus were not treated as special cases anymore and fit the mold of the other epicycles.

Then came Tycho Brahe, a Dane who was born in1570. Tycho was a man who took precise measurements to