A List of Influential Astronomers I

Thanks to a host of astronomers, we are knowledgeable about the Solar System, planets, stars and the entire universe. Early astronomers and scientists paved the way towards understanding the Sun, Moon and our own planet. In this article, you will learn about some of the achievements of Isaac Newton, Nicolaus Copernicus (pictured), and Galileo Galilee.

Isaac Newton (1643 , 1727)

Considered one of the greatest astronomers of all time, Sir Isaac Newton contributed a great deal to the study of the sky with his theories regarding gravity and the motions of the planets. The English astronomer also dabbled in physics, math, natural philosophy, alchemy and theology. The highly religious scientist was an unorthodox Christian and wrote more on occult studies and Biblical topics than he did on science and mathematics.

Nicolaus Copernicus (1473 , 1543)

It was because of Copernicus that we know that the Sun was at the center of the Solar System. The Polish scientist was an astronomer of the Renaissance. He was the first person to bring the concept of a heliocentric universe. His publication titled, “On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres” was released in 1543 (just before his death), and was seen as a jumpstart to modern astronomy.

Galileo Galilee (1564 , 1642)

Galileo was an Italian astronomer, who also studied physics, math, and philosophy. As a philosopher, he was highly influential in the Scientific Revolution. In the field of astronomy, he is known for building some of the first telescopes, which gave him the nickname of “father of modern observational astronomy.” Many scientists regard him as being responsible for the birth of modern science. Galileo also embraced the concept of a heliocentric universe.

George Ellery Hale (1868 , 1938)

A pioneer from the United States, George Ellery Hale studied astronomy , in particular, the Sun. He also furthered the studies of other astronomers by founding observatories. One of the observatories has a significant telescope that was named after him , the Hale Telescope situated in California. Other observatories that Hale helped to establish include including Yerkes Observatory (Williams Bay, Wisconsin), Mount Wilson Observatory (north of Los Angeles, California), and Palomar Observatory (Palomar Mountain Range close to San Diego County, California).

Edmond Halley (1656 , 1742)

If there is anyone most connected to the study of comets, Edmond Halley is at the very top of the list. This British astronomer successfully predicted the orbits of comets, including the infamous Halley’s Comet. The comet can be seen from Earth (and is clearly visible with the naked eye) every 75 to 76 years. Because of this, it is possible for someone to experience its appearance twice in their lifetime.

William Herschel (1738 , 1822)

The German-born British astronomer William Herschel was known for building large telescopes and creating a catalogue of stars. He studied infrared radiation, but this was not the only thing the scientist dabbled in. He actually composed 24 symphonies , a talent that was overshadowed by his contributions to astronomy. Herschel is also responsible for discovering moon belonging to Saturn and Uranus. Because of his achievements, a few things have been named after him, including a crater on the Moon, a museum of astronomy, and a building at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom.