Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Tycho Brahe (1546-1601, Danish) built an observatory from which he made the most accurate astronomical observations up to that time. His observatory contained sophisticated equipment for mapping star positions, and for more than 20 years he made detailed records of his findings. He believed that the universe was a blend of the Ptolemaic and Copernican models, and created his own model in which the planets orbit the Sun and the Sun orbits the Earth.
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642, Italian) is the father of observational astronomy. In 1609, he heard about the Dutch invention of the telescope, and built one for himself. Even though his telescope was not very powerful compared to the amateur equipment available today, he was able to make a number of stunning discoveries which changed the face of astronomy. He saw the craters, mountains, and valleys of the Moon, noticed the huge number of stars making up the Milky Way, kept precise records of sunspot activity and the phases of Venus, and discovered four moons orbiting Jupiter. These moons are still called the Galilean Moons today, in honor of the earth-shattering scientific effects of the discovery. During a time when the Earth was still considered to be at the center of the universe, he publicized the fact that other astronomical bodies, such as Jupiter's moons, were clearly revolving around something other than the Earth. Galileo's support of the Copernican model of the universe frightened the Church, which put Galileo on trial in 1633. He was forced to renounce his Copernican views and was held under house arrest for the rest of his life.
Johannes Kepler (1571-1630, German) was Tycho Brahe's assistant and student. He inherited his teacher's extensive collection of astronomical records, and used them to develop three laws of planetary motion. He believed in the Copernican model of the universe, although he found it difficult to fit Tycho's observations of Mars into the model with a circular orbit. He therefore used the idea of elliptical orbits to describe the motions of the planets, which became known as Kepler's first law. His second law states that a line from the Sun to a planet sweeps out equal areas in equal amounts of time. The third law was a masterpiece of simplicity: the square of the number of years of a planet's orbital period is equal to the cube of that planet's average distance from the Sun.
Giovanni Cassini (1625-1712, Italian) was the astronomer who first discovered the division in the rings of Saturn, today known as the Cassini division. He also found four moons orbiting Saturn, and measured the periods of rotation of Mars and Jupiter. The Cassini space mission currently on its way to Saturn was named after him.
Isaac Newton (1643-1727, British) was a mathematician who developed extensive mathematics to describe the astronomical models of Copernicus and Kepler. His Theory of Universal Gravitation was the foundation of Kepler's laws of planetary motion, but it also went further: Newton showed that the laws governing astronomical bodies were the same laws governing motion on the surface of the Earth. Newton's scientific ideas are so complete that they still offer an accurate description of physics today, except for certain cases in which 20th century physics must be used.
I think that astronomy is a very important science because it maintain us Informed about what happens outside in the universe and if we didn't knew it we would ignore things outside from the earth believing in what the church say.