- Term Papers, Book Reports, Research Papers and College Essays

Greek Astronomer Aristarchus of Samos

Essay by review  •  September 2, 2010  •  Essay  •  2,800 Words (12 Pages)  •  1,443 Views

Essay Preview: Greek Astronomer Aristarchus of Samos

Report this essay
Page 1 of 12

Eight Scientist Research

Since the dawn of time, man has yearned to know the origin of existence, how life was started, and the source of creation. Many scientists, from ancient Greece to modern civilization, began the search for answers by first studying our solar system, mapping the stars, trying to unlock their secrets. These eight scientists paved the way for any basic knowledge of the universe.

Born in 270 BC, the Greek astronomer Aristarchus of Samos, was the first scientist known to suggest that the earth revolves around the sun. Little is known of the childhood of Aristarchus, as well as his entire life. His only recorded works come from Archimedes and Plutarch, which discuss his ideas of the movement of all the planets in the solar system. Unfortunately, the lack in technological advances greatly affected his observations, making them inaccurate, especially his geometrical equations. The major contribution Aristarchus is known for is a more precise scale of our solar system. Aristarchus of Samos is honored today with a lunar crater named for him, which is also the brightest point on the moon.

Claudius Ptolemaeus, also known as Ptolemy, is considered one of the greatest and most influential astronomers of the ancient world. Almost all of his observations and works were done in Alexandria, Egypt, the home of the largest library and school of the ancient world, which when found, greatly benefited scientists in decoding the ancient astronomers calculations and theories. The life of Ptolomy is vague, as is the reaction to his works at the time. His system of astronomy, which is in his book the Syntaxis, was accepted as correct until the year 1543 AD. In this system, the earth was the center of the universe, and was the axis of a huge rotating sphere, which spun. On the outer edges of the sphere were the stars, and the sun and other heavenly bodies were in between the earth and stars. Ptolomy accounted for the movement of the planets using three mathematical constructions: the eccentric, epicycle, and the equant. The eccentric construction is the only one of the three not centered on the earth. The epicycle says that the planet moves in a small circle, which in itself is moving around a bigger circle. The last of the three constructions, the equant, suggested that the center of motion on a large circle was separated from the center of the circle. The contributions of Ptolomy are numerous, and today he is known as one of the greatest astronomers and mathematicians of the ancient world.

The father of modern astronomer, Nicolaus Copernicus, was born in Poland in 1743. All that is known of his childhood is that his father died when Nicolaus was ten years old, so he was raised by his uncle. Copernicus was lucky that his uncle was a prominent Bishop and made sure that Nicolaus received a good education. He enrolled in the University of Cracow to study mathematics, astronomy, astrology, and philosophy. After completing his studies there, Copernicus traveled abroad and also enrolled in the Universities of Bologna and Padua to study both medicine and law. After his return to Poland, he was elected as canon, due greatly to his uncle's influence, so Copernicus devoted his time to astronomy. In 1512, Copernicus began a critical study of all the proposed models of the universe and decided that the model that Ptolomy was too complicated to be possible. He then created the "Copernican system", in which the sun was the center of the universe and all the planets were in constant orbit around it. But Copernicus deemed it necessary to include two of Ptolomy's constructions, the epicycle and the eccentric, to explain The constant variable in the movement of the planets because he believed that all planets were in a circular orbit around the sun. Since Copernicus used two of Ptolomy's ideas, his model was about as inaccurate. Before Nicolaus Copernicus died in 1543, he finished his book "De Revoliutionibus, which translates to " On The Revolutions of the Heavenly Orbs." Although unable to prove his theory, the works of Copernicus paved the way for all modern plans of the solar system.

The Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, born in 1546, was the inventor of many important astronomical instruments. The childhood of Brahe was very traumatic, since he was kidnapped at a young age by his very wealthy uncle and together they lived in his uncle's castle in Tostrup, Scania. His uncle financed Tycho's education, first sending him to the University of Copenhagen for four years to study law. Brahe decided to turn to astronomy on August 21, 1560, when he witnessed a total solar eclipse, which is not totally spectacular, except for the fact that he was fascinated that astronomers could accurately predict the times of these occurrences. So, in 1562, Brahe's uncle sent him to the University of Leipzig, where he stayed until 1565. While there, he discovered that al the exsisting almanacs were inaccurate in their mapping of Jupiter and Saturn. With great enthusiasm, Brahe decided to devote his life to the gaining of accurate observations of the universe, so he could fix the excisting tables, or create his own. For the next five years, Brahe traveled throughout Europe, acquiring mathematical knowledge and astronomical instruments. In 1570, Brahe's uncle died and he inherited the entire estate, and an observatory was soon built. His first major discovery came on November 11, 1572, when he discovered a new star in the constellation of Cassiopeia. His discovery of the new star and his publication of his observations in " De nova stella " in 1573 marked a transformation from a Danish astronomer to a world-renowned scientist. He soon built a new observatory on the island of Hveen, which he equipped with all of the latest tools and instruments in astronomy. All of the equipment at that time was still used by the naked eye, telescopic having not been invented. Brahe received help from the King of Prussia, Frederick II, to build an observatory and make as many accurate observations as possible to be recorded. This constituted the greatest portion of Tycho's life. He also proposed a slightly modified version of the Copernican system, where all the planets revolved around the sun, except for earth, in which the sun revolved around. Tycho Brahe's accomplishments with such a limited source of tools and knowledge is considered one of the greatest achievements of the Renaissance. He died in 1610, and is still considered to be the greatest astronomer before telescopes. Luckily, he left all of his work to Kepler.

The German scientist Kepler, born in Weil, Germany in 1571, was the founder of three laws of planetary orbit in the solar system. After graduating from the University of Tubingen, which is



Download as:   txt (16.3 Kb)   pdf (175.2 Kb)   docx (15.2 Kb)  
Continue for 11 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2010, 09). Greek Astronomer Aristarchus of Samos. Retrieved 09, 2010, from

"Greek Astronomer Aristarchus of Samos" 09 2010. 2010. 09 2010 <>.

"Greek Astronomer Aristarchus of Samos.", 09 2010. Web. 09 2010. <>.

"Greek Astronomer Aristarchus of Samos." 09, 2010. Accessed 09, 2010.