Midterm Study Guide

Topics: Star, White dwarf, Galaxy Pages: 6 (2173 words) Published: April 25, 2014

The Study of Celestial Objects
When we were born, we did not know how vast the world really is, we were convinced that this Earth was the center, the only place in this world. However, growing up we come to accept that Earth is just a piece of the infinite universe, and one might even say Earth is not even an atom compared to the cosmos. It took humans thousands of years to discover the reaches of the Earth, we finally were able to capture the whole planet and create a map of Earth. Yet the universe out there is much larger and it is still continually growing bigger. We could only try to observe and study the movements in space from our own planet in order to further our understanding of the universe. Through astronomy, we hoped to find the many mysteries and properties of the world.

Astronomy is the study of moons, planets, stars, galaxies, nebulae, their many features and properties, and situations that happens outside of Earth. The study was dated back to the times of the Egyptians, however their beliefs in God prevented them from further looking into the universe, because to them God controlled the universe so why would they try to understand it. When the Greeks came along, and they were able to find out that the Earth was spherical, one notable scientist that helped in this discovery was called Eratosthenes, he was also the person that invented the system of latitude and longitude we know today, Eratosthenes was the first to calculate the Earth’s circumference by using the length stadiums as his measurement system. Considering the lack of advance technology back in his days, his calculation was very accurate, his circumference was only missing 300 kilometers of today’s accepted value (40,075 kilometers). Copernicus was also not the first person to propose the idea that the Earth revolves around the sun, however his proposal was during the time of the Scientific Revolution, a time when people are more open-minded to new ideas and have access to tools that can prove such claims. The idea was proposed in 200 BC, by Aristarchus, an ancient Greek astronomer and mathematician. Yet everyone disregarded this theory, most philosophers chose to believe in geocentricism, the idea proposed by Ptolemy that everything revolves around the Earth and that Earth is the center of the universe. This idea became accepted amongst the people until the Scientific Revolution.

Astronomy did not make any more progress until the fifteenth century, for under the control of religion and most people being uneducated, the geocentric system remained unchallenged until Copernicus come into the spotlight. Copernicus studied Aristarchus’s works to develop his interpretation of the planets orbiting the sun, after long years of studying, he finally published “On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Orbs” in 1543, the same year of his death. This book created chaos amongst people and religious leaders. Since the theory contradicts the church’s teachings at that time, accepting his theory means being punished for committing a “crime”. Even though Copernicus theory was incomplete, it caused tremendous progress in the advancements of astronomy. Few years later, Tyco Brahe came along, by building an observatory on the Island of Hveen, he was able to observe and record the positions of planets for several years, he rejected Copernicus’s theory, but believed that most of the planets orbited around the sun, yet the sun still orbited around the Earth. Soon afterward, Johannes Kepler joins in, originally Brahe’s assistant, but when he compared Copernicus’s theory against the records of Brahe’s observations, Kepler found that the motions of the planets did not match the records of Brahe, so he created his own ideas to test. After many complicated experiments and formulas, he was able to create the laws of planetary motion. The law shows how all the planets orbit the sun, and that they orbited in an elliptical shape. Later on Newton would also contribute to the...
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