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Milestones in Astronomy
Posted In: Space and Astrology  9/5/11
By: Yona Williams

From the first time humans looked up in the sky and wondered what the heck awaited them, astronomy has been an evolving interest of the population. Early astronomers made observations, calculations and laid the foundation for the scientific study of the Universe and celestial bodies. In this article, you will learn some of the milestones regarding astronomy, such as inventions that helped shape advancements in stargazing.

585 BC – The first prediction of an eclipse of the Sun was made. When viewed from the Earth, a solar eclipse takes place when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth. During this process, the Moon fully or partially covers the Sun when viewed from certain locations on Earth. An eclipse can only occur during a new moon. In one year, there is the possibility of at least two (and up to five) eclipses to happen.

130 BC – Hipparchus (or Hipparchos) calculates the distance and size of the Moon. The Greek astronomer lived during the Hellenistic period and also moonlighted as an astrologer, geographer, and mathematician. He is believed to have founded the branch of math called trigonometry.

1543 AD – Copernicus is the first person to demonstrate that the Sun is positioned at the center of the Solar System. The astronomer would later go on to write books about astronomy, including one titled, "On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres," which was published just before his death. His contributions are often called the spark of modern astronomy.

1609 – Johannes Kepler describes the laws of planetary motion. When the scientific revolution emerged during the 17th century, the German astronomer Kepler was right in the middle of it. One of his achievements was to established the laws of planetary motion. Using his works and writings, Sir Isaac Newton was able to create his theory of universal gravitation.

1610 – Galileo Galilei makes a discovery of Jupiter's moons, which were named the Galiean moons in his honor. he Italian astronomer and physicist was a key player in the Scientific Revolution. He worked towards improving the telescope and made observations of astronomy that would influence future scientists. Galileo is often called the "father of modern observational astronomy" and the "father of modern physics."

1655 – Christiaan Huygens discovers a moon of Saturn, which is called Titan. The influential Dutch astronomer and mathematician studied telescopes that he used to investigate the rings of Saturn. He is also known for inventing the pendulum clock and making strides in the field of time keeping and optics.

1668 – Sir Isaac Newton constructs the first reflecting telescope. Also called a reflector, a reflecting telescope is an optical piece of equipment that relies on a single or combination of curved mirrors that reflect light to create an image.


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