For umpteen centuries people thought the Earth was the center of the cosmos. In the 2nd century AD, this view was the foundation for Ptolemy's Almagest and it persisted into the 18th century. But it wasn't unchallenged, there was a revolution in the making.
The day job of Nicolaus Copernicus, the reluctant revolutionary, was canon of a cathedral. The last resting place of this man who turned astronomy on its head was unmarked. How did his student astronomy books help to identify his remains four and a half centuries after his death?
In the 16th century everyone knew that Earth was the center of the cosmos. But this made it impossible to predict the motions of heavenly bodies, even if they moved in elaborate circles within circles. Copernicus turned the idea on its head and put the Sun at the center. A revolution had begun!
One of the greatest astronomers of all time was a Danish nobleman with a metal nose, who was also a publisher, an alchemist and the Imperial Mathematician. His astronomical observations were the key to the modern view of the Solar System.
Johannes Kepler gave the first accurate description of the Solar System. As he did his work, he struggled with poverty, insecurity and bereavement in troubled times. Religion and warfare were tearing Europe apart, but Kepler never gave up his quest to understand the cosmos.
Most people think of Galileo as the man who is a symbol of the heroic voice of truth against a powerful reactionary Church. However this mythic Galileo is not the one Dava Sobel's book, "Galileo's Daughter", reveals through his faith, his work and his daughter's love.
Isaac Newton's thinking about gravitation really was stimulated by seeing an apple fall, but not on his head! Find out more about the troubled child and and indifferent school pupil who became a dominant figure in science, and still is nearly three hundred years after his death.
Halley didn't discover a comet, but he did research and published papers in astronomy and many other fields. Russian Czar Peter the Great liked him as a dining and drinking companion and King William III put this civilian in charge of a Royal Navy ship. But how did he get a comet named for him?
Kepler's House in Linz Four hundred years ago yesterday (May 15, 1618) Johannes Kepler discovered the simple mathematical rule governing the orbits of the solar system's planets, now recognized as Kepler's Third Law of planetary motion. At that time he was living in this tall house on The Hofgasse, a narrow street near the castle and main square of the city of Linz, Austria. The conclusive identification of this residence (Hofgasse 7) as the location of the discovery of his third law is a recent discovery itself. Erich Meyer of the Astronomical Society of Linz solved the historical mystery.
Image Credit & Copyright: Erich Meyer (Astronomical Society of Linz) Text: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)