Early History

EARLY HISTORY (2700 B.C. – 1600 A.D.)

Early Astronomy: Predicting Eclipses, Determining Equinoxes and Solstices

2700 B.C. (Stonehenge, England) - stones marked solstices and equinoxes; Aubrey holes predicted eclipses

2000 B.C. [Sumerians] - earliest constellations (bull, lion, scorpion); base 60 system

2000 B.C. [Babylonians] - Pythagorean Theorem

1000 B.C. [Egyptians] - helical rising of Sirius; 12 month, 30 day calendar; sundial

1000 B.C. [Chinese] - counting boards

700 B.C. – 50 A.D. [Babylonians] - planetary positions and eclipses

600 B.C [Pre-Greek: Thales of Miletus] - solar eclipse prediction, Saros Cycle; constellations as known today

600 B.C. (Miletus, Greece) [Anaximander] - shadow from stick t calculate the length of the year; life originated in water, evolved from simpler forms

500 B.C [Pythagoras of Samos] - spherical moon, spherical-moving Earth

450 B.C [Empodocles] - water thief to argue that air must be so finely divided that it’s invisible

400 B.C. [Chinese] - sunspots

400 B.C. [Democritus] - atoms, large number of other worlds, Milky Way aggregates of light from other galaxies

4th Century B.C [Plato] - proposed Uniform Circular Motion of Planets; spherical Earth

350 B.C. (Athens, Greece) [Aristotle]- model of the solar system: spherical universe centered on solid spherical Earth (geocentric view); moon between Earth and Sun; all objects are from the four elements – earth, water, fire, and air; earth and heaven to be subject to two different sets of laws

300 B.C. (Alexandria) [Euclid] - most prominent mathematician; “Elements”: geometry; conic sections

310-250 B.C. [Aristarchus of Samos] - relative distances and sizes of the Moon and the Sun; Sun at the center of the solar system (heliocentric view); used Earth’s shadow to measure the size of the moon

200 B.C. (Alexandria) [Eratosthenes] - measured earth’s size using simple geometry and scientific process

130 B.C. [Hipparchus of Rhodes] - star maps; star catalog of 850 stars, precession; epicycles

150 A.D. [Ptolemy] - fixed Aristotle’s model with the epicycle theory: planets move in epicycles (small circular paths around which the planets move); the centers pf epicycles are along the deferent (big circle)

250 A.D. [Mayans] - “place-value” number system

500 A.D [Hyptia] - first known woman astronomer, librarian of Alexandria

500 A.D. [Chinese] - solar wind; comets: tail of comets always point away from the Sun

6th – 9th Century A.D. [Persian and Arabic Astronomy] - “Al-Sufi”: Book of Stars Showing Orion Nebula; “Al-Battani”: Non-circularity of Earth’s Orbit

10th Century A.D. [Mayans] - Dresden Codex, Venus tables, eclipse tables

10th Century A.D. [Chinese] - star map showing 26 sections

1054 A.D. [Chinese] - supernova: remnant traced to Crab Nebula

1100 A.D. [Pueblo Native Americans] - Sun Dagger

1270 A.D. [Samarkand] - star catalog

Mid-1400′s A.D. (Germany) [Regiomontanus] - “Ephemeris”; “The Nuremberg Chronicle” – planetary positions and comet charts

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