Stack Exchange Network

Stack Exchange network consists of 175 Q&A communities including Stack Overflow, the largest, most trusted online community for developers to learn, share their knowledge, and build their careers.

Visit Stack Exchange

Questions tagged [astronomy]

The study of celestial objects and phenomena outside of the Earth's atmosphere.

1
vote
2answers
68 views

Did knowledge of astronomy spread among Indo-European civilizations in antiquity?

Early civilizations of india, Greece, Babylon, China and Egypt have progressed in astronomy. Is there any shared knowledge among them and if any how can we find out?
0
votes
1answer
113 views

What is the origin of Zodiac (Kaalachakra) signs?

I think that The Zodiacal signs are of Vedic origin. Hindus, Greeks and Sumerians all have Zodiacal signs. Which is the most likely origin? The middle ring is the zodiac in the same between India and ...
6
votes
2answers
433 views

Where did Ptolemy compare the Earth to the distance of fixed stars?

I read the following in C. S. Lewis, Miracles (page 77-8) The immensity of the universe is not a recent discovery. More than seventeen hundred years ago Ptolemy taught that in relation to the ...
1
vote
1answer
75 views

Apparent contradiction in Copernicus' Commentariolus

There seems to be a contradiction in the assumptions that Copernicus makes when attempting to explain the motion of the planets: http://dbanach.com/copernicus-commentarilous.htm Assumptions 1 and 3 ...
3
votes
0answers
33 views

How did Cassini measure the “Cassini state” of the Moon? What measurements were made; what did the data look like?

The Phys.org article Physicists provide first model of moon's rotational dynamics, accounting for the solid inner core describes the September 2018 paper by Christopher Stys and Mathieu Dumberry The ...
2
votes
1answer
56 views

Where to find some early discussions of the Equinox(es)?

Said quickly, solstices are rather perceptible while the equinox is a mental construction. Archeoastronomical evidence shows that neolithic people already had knowledge about the solsticial points on ...
5
votes
1answer
85 views

What calculation did Halley or anyone else do to estimate the effects of Jupiter and Saturn on Halley's comet's return in 1758/9?

This answer to the question First observation that the movement of a planet or asteroid in its orbit was affected by another planet says: In 1705, with the mathematical assistance of Issac Newton, ...
1
vote
0answers
29 views

When did the research field of Astrophysics begin?

I have this vague idea that Astrophysics morphed out of Astronomy as a field of study and research. I am curious if this is true and when did Astrophysics become separate from Astronomy as a field of ...
6
votes
1answer
152 views

How did Eratosthenes determine that Alexandria and Syene were on the same meridian?

As discussed over here, Eratosthenes measured the earth’s circumference by comparing shadows cast at apparent noon at two locations separated by a known distance. Although accounts of the event (like ...
0
votes
1answer
72 views

What's the relationship between Aristotle's theory of elements and motion and geometry?

I'm having a hard time gathering my thoughts about this. I'm trying to find a connection or some sort of relation between the first 3 axioms (postulates) of Euclidean geometry (though around Aristotle'...
4
votes
2answers
152 views

Was Newton's successful calculation of precession of equinoxes a fluke?

I have looked at several sources, and Newton was right about the fact that the Earth is not a perfect sphere, but an ellipsoid caused the precession of equinoxes, as the Moon's gravitational ...
0
votes
1answer
69 views

Who correctly first explained the reason why you can see certain constellations only in certain seasons?

Of course, only heliocentric model can explain this. But, was this Copernicus himself or Galilei?
1
vote
1answer
48 views

Precision of Ancient/Medieval Astronomy (wrt Eclipses)

Today we can predict lunar/solar eclipses down to the precision of seconds.[1] But what was the precision like in medieval times? I imagine it must have improved over centuries. To keep the question ...
1
vote
1answer
129 views

Who first solved the two-body problem in 3D?

Who first solved the two-body problem in 3-dimensions? Was it Laplace?
4
votes
1answer
392 views

Sphericity of Earth from lunar eclipses - is Aristotle's argument valid?

Aristotle is often credited with proving the sphericity of Earth from the fact that the shadow of the Earth on the moon during lunar eclipses is always an arc of a round circle (as opposed to arcs of ...
1
vote
2answers
118 views

Who was the first to understand the concept of outer-space?

Who first understood that celestial bodies (stars, planets, and moons) are moving in a 3D space and not points of light moving on Earth's dome? Also, when and how did they realize that celestial ...
5
votes
1answer
74 views

Was Captain Cook’s voyage to observe the transit of Venus going to enable better ship navigation at the time?

On a recent visit to the Royal Observatory at Greenwich I was struck by its proximity to the Naval Academy next door. The theme of the history of clocks and development of astronomy was driven by the ...
10
votes
3answers
391 views

Has science fiction ever caused scientists to do real research?

Has science fiction ever caused scientists to do real research? Science fiction here means fiction that tries to explain things in the world rather than speculate about the future or unexplorable ...
5
votes
1answer
97 views

Do astronomers still use decimal time?

Wikipedia states that decimal time - where the time of the day is expressed as a decimal part of the day - "have been used by astronomers ever since [Laplace introduced them]". An example by Herschel ...
6
votes
1answer
278 views

Did Indian astronomers realize the sphericity of the earth independently of the Greeks?

Reading Wikipedia's articles on the flat earth, spherical earth, and history of geodesy makes it clear that virtually every society recognizing the spheroidal shape of the earth today owes the ...
0
votes
2answers
138 views

When did spring-driven clocks start being used?

On a tour of the Royal Observatory at Greenwich I saw the following display on the history of mechanical clocks: They suggest that mechanical clocks and astronomy weren’t really combined in England ...
1
vote
1answer
47 views

When did mechanical tower clocks start being used?

On a tour of the Royal Observatory at Greenwich I saw the following display on the history of mechanical clocks: The suggest that mechanical clocks and astronomy weren’t really combined in England ...
1
vote
0answers
75 views

Historical development of role of astrology in medicine?

The OED defines "iatromathematics" as Practising medicine in conjunction with astrology. Pre-17th century, it seems most scientists (physicians included) believed in the influence of the stars on ...
6
votes
2answers
482 views

How scientifically valid were Galileo's heliocentric arguments?

As far as I know, while Galileo's hypothesis about the tides was wrong, his discovery of the phases of Venus while passing the sun should have been sufficient to leave the geocentric crystal spheres ...
1
vote
1answer
85 views

Did Galileo really see Galilean Moons?

I want the answer to incorporate apparent magnitudes of those moons, power of his telescope, light pollution of that time, successful recreation of the scenario of watching Galilean moons using that ...
4
votes
1answer
83 views

Who coined the term “degenerate star”?

I'm trying to find a good source for the definition of degenerate matter to differentiate it from Fermi gases. For my research a good section on history would be nice. This question is more ...
1
vote
2answers
415 views

What astronomical reason led to the creation of the trigonometric sine and cosine?

Sines and cosines are commonly introduced as ratios of sides of a triangle with its hypotenuse and attributed to ancient Indian scholars. However, I've never actually thought of the reason for ...
3
votes
1answer
188 views

Did the Mayan's really predict the solar eclipse?

The Mayan's astronomical observations were outstanding given the tools they had, and investigations of the Dresden codex published by Harvey and Victoria Bricker in 1983 predicted the July 11th, 1991 ...
1
vote
2answers
477 views

How did Ptolemy calculate the distance to the moon

I've read that Hipparchus measured the distance to the Moon using the lunar and solar eclipse and obtained a value around 67.3 Earth radii. It also says that soon after Ptolemy gave a more accurate ...
1
vote
1answer
87 views

What was the impact on science and philosophy of the discovery that the Milkyway is not the whole Universe?

I can think of no discovery bigger in terms of correction of a belief if the metric is, How much bigger is something really than believed? Of course that is not the only significance. It is a major ...
13
votes
2answers
899 views

Why was China slow to recognise the sphericity of Earth?

Wikipedia notes that, while knowledge Earth is approximately spherical was obtained in ancient Greece, and became standard among educated people in Europe and the Middle East long before 1300 AD, ...
2
votes
2answers
185 views

Why is an inch (in the English Imperial system of measure) as long as it is?

My question is about the length of the inch which is a subunit of the Imperial foot. Is there any connection whatsoever between the Imperial system for units of measure and the dimensions of the ...
3
votes
1answer
143 views

When did astronomy first discover that the stars are bigger than the moon?

We take it for granted these days that the stars are unimaginably bigger than the planets and the moons. But when you look at the sky, it does not appear this way. The moon looks bigger and brighter ...
0
votes
0answers
114 views

Kepler's genius, How?

I have a very simple question. How Kepler knew that orbits are elliptical, say I was living in his time. How would Kepler explain that the orbits are elliptical (since none of his 3 laws explain why ...
2
votes
3answers
114 views

Why was in 1584 the eclipse of the moon used to calculate the width of the Atlantic ocean rather than just using the Sun itself?

In this video is explained that in November 1584 the width of the Atlantic ocean was discovered by comparing the hour when the eclipse of the moon started in England with the hour when the eclipse ...
2
votes
1answer
679 views

How was stellar parallax tested by Tycho Brahe?

Explanations of stellar parallax that I have found involve examining the apparent motion of a nearer star relative to a background of more distant stars, as the Earth moves around the sun or as the ...
1
vote
1answer
156 views

Is it known where Eratosthenes first heard of the “well of Syene”?

The American Physical Society's This Month in Physics History; June, ca. 240 B.C. Eratosthenes Measures the Earth says: Eratosthenes had heard from travelers about a well in Syene (now Aswan, Egypt)...
0
votes
2answers
86 views

Were people in the ancient or medieval times aware of how exactly a solar year is equal to a lunar year?

Was it common knowledge around 600 AD or perhaps 30 BCE that 200 solar years for example were equal to 209 lunar years? In which period of history precisely can we say that such a thing was confirmed?
4
votes
1answer
63 views

Kepler's position with respect to Tycho Brahe's world system?

When Kepler was an assistant of Tycho Brahe, did Kepler in public declare his support for Copernicus' system or Brahe's system (the earth at rest, but the planets orbiting the sun) or was he undecided?...
1
vote
2answers
117 views

Is there any evidence supporting this claim about Cassini and his ovals?

The Wikipedia article for Cassini ovals claims in the introduction that "Cassini believed that the Sun traveled around the Earth on one of these ovals, with the Earth at one focus of the oval." This ...
2
votes
2answers
96 views

Where are the mirrors of the historic telescopes today?

Are the great mirrors and lenses of historic telescopes preserved? Those of Herschel and Rosse and many others and back to the 18th and 17th centuries. The wooden structures of those telescopes I can ...
4
votes
4answers
793 views

Historical knowledge of Distance of Earth from Sun

I asked the following question on the Physics stackexchange, only to be notified that it was more suitable for this forum. The link to original post can be found at: https://physics.stackexchange.com/...
2
votes
2answers
159 views

Determination of planetary mass and radius

At the beginning,how and using which principles scientists determined the mass and distance from sun of various planets?
3
votes
2answers
183 views

Was an expanding universe proposed before Edwin Hubble's observations?

General relativity (1915), as I've heard it explained, describes a universe that is either shrinking or expanding. By adding a cosmological constant it can describe a universe in eternal steady state, ...
0
votes
1answer
279 views

Did Isaac Newton make astronomical observations?

What role did astronomy play for Isaac Newton? He was a good friend with Edmond Halley the astronomer. Kepler's laws were obviously the foundation for his physics. And he revolutionized optics too, ...
1
vote
1answer
109 views

How and when did the Titius-Bode rule first become known as a “law”?

The Titius-Bode rule's fit to the solar system was a bit clunky at best, and it was not really testable in its day. It could not have been used to predict something else, and then that prediction ...
5
votes
2answers
624 views

How important was the prediction of Neptune in 1846 for the Oxford evolution debate?

The short story is that based on Kepler's and Newton's physics, in 1846 Le Verrier mathematically predicted the existence and current location of Neptune within a single angular degree, and it was ...
2
votes
0answers
61 views

What can be inferred about the eyesight of early astronomers from their recorded observations?

The journals kept by the likes of Galileo, Kepler and Herschel provide details about what objects they discovered and what kinds of optical instruments they used to discover them. Taken together, ...
4
votes
2answers
269 views

Did Kepler arrive at his planetary laws based on Mars's orbit alone?

Kepler apparently arrived at his first two laws based on the Tycho's data for Mars. But Mars has the largest eccentricity except for Mercury, so it is easier to tell the difference between a circle ...
5
votes
1answer
358 views

When William Herschel discovered Uranus, who else at the time had a comparable telescope?

William Herschel built a big telescope and observed Uranus in 1781. I'm trying to figure out who else had a comparable telescope at the time, who could verify these observations? Apparently Johan ...