Running head: THE HISTORY OF OUR KNOWN UNIVERSE
THE HISTORY OF OUR KNOWN UNIVERSE The history of our known universe At one time, it was believed that the earth was the center of the universe and that all
celestial bodies revolved around the earth. This belief was so deeply held that complicated orbits of the planets were created in order to ensure that the earth remained at the center. Anyone that dared to challenge the earth center model was immediately considered a heretic and faced very serious consequences. Can you imagine the kind of world that we would live in today if great thinkers did not challenge the common thought of the time? Aristotle was a very famous Greek ...view middle of the document...
Copernicus did not completely challenge Ptolemaic model of the universe. While he believed that the planets all orbited the sun, he also believed that the
THE HISTORY OF OUR KNOWN UNIVERSE planets orbited the sun in perfect circles. It would be another 100 years before the work of Copernicus was accepted. However, it was the great work of Copernicus that led us to the understanding that we have of our solar system today.
A nobleman by the name of Tycho Brahe is credited for inventing a device that allowed him to measure the movement of the planets more accurately than had ever been done before. In particular, Brahe accurately measured the movement of Mars. It is the collection of this data that allowed Brahe’s assistant to make one of the most remarkable discoveries of the time. Brahe’s assistant was a gentleman by the name of Johannes Kepler. It was Kepler that understood the data that was collected by Brahe. In particular, Kepler analyzed the data that Brahe collected regarding the orbit of Mars. Kepler correctly realized that the orbit of the planet was not a perfect circle, as previously thought. Instead the orbit of Mars was elliptical. This was a profound discovery because it meant that, for the first time, the orbits of the planets could be explained without the need for epicycles. This discovery also meant that the Earth was not at the center of the universe. Earth was part of a group of planets circling the sun. On January 7th 1610 Galileo pointed a telescope, for the first time, at the night sky. Galileo did not invent the telescope but he was the first to use it to look at the heavens. While Galileo’s telescope was crude compared to today’s standards, it allowed him to see the universe in action. He saw sunspots, the moons of Jupiter, craters on our own moon, the Milky Way, and much more. It was as Galileo was viewing the stars near Jupiter that he made an astonishing discovery! One of the stars disappeared! Galileo reasoned that it must have disappeared because it was now behind Jupiter and if the star was behind the planet, then it must be in orbit around Jupiter. Galileo then came to the conclusion that the earth was not the center of the universe as
THE HISTORY OF OUR KNOWN UNIVERSE was the common belief for so many centuries. Unfortunately, Galileo’s findings did not sit well with the church. It is important to note that all of the astronomers (or thinkers) to this point conducted their work during medieval times. The Catholic Church had a strangle hold on everyone from
Peasants to Kings. If the church did not approve of it, it simply was not so. Following a path that was against the teachings of the Church was not tolerated and there were dire consequences for those...