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The Renaissance and Modern Astronomy

In Europe, the seeds of modern astronomy were planted about 1300 AD. At the center of progress was the start of the Renaissance. This period of expansive thought and achievements would last between the early 1300s and around 1600. In this article, you will learn how this time period affected views and theories regarding astronomy.

The Renaissance promoted an increase of learning for people living in southern Europe, which had nearly ceased since the western empire fell. The spread of education amongst the people opened their eyes to a lot of things, including the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church. With their newfound knowledge, they looked for different ways to better themselves. The people started to turn their back on the church. Interestingly, most of the information that the people received came from the monasteries of Catholic Church, where most of the preserved books had been kept.

In the beginning of the 1500s, the people in the north started to catch wind of the learning from southern Europe. However, instead of turning away from the corruption of the church, the northern Europeans wished to reform the broken system. This time period was referred to as the Reformation, where the people started to read the Bible for themselves. They wanted to interpret what the Catholic Church was supposed to be based upon, and learned that the beliefs in the Bible did not match with what was presented by the church. During this time, the Protestant movement was also born.

Religious Connection to Astronomy

Conflict stirred, as thousands of people lost their lives , being branded as heretics and burned at the stake for their beliefs that were different from the pope, who beliefs still represented the Catholic Church, which still had a powerful stronghold in Europe. For example, the pope believed that the earth itself was the center of the universe and that all other heavenly bodies revolved around it. When Copernicus expressed his thoughts about the sun being the center of the solar system, the church persecuted those who believed the same thing.