Questions regarding the history of astronomy, including discoveries and scientists.

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Astronomy-themed names, wordplay, connotations

I use an astronomy theme for naming my main computer and parts thereof. It started with a machine named Cassini, build while watching the arrival of the exploration mission and Saturn Orbital ...
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2answers
47 views

Where to obtain Tycho Brahe's data?

I would like to obtain Tycho Brahe's data on Mars. What would be an authoritative source? One source I could find is this page (the data is given as an Excel file) but I have no idea can that be ...
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SN1604, Former and Current Name of the Constellation Serphens

Kepler wrote 'De Stella nova in pede Serpentarii' describing the supernova of 1604, now known as SN1604. My understanding is that the constellations used by Kepler and the constellations used today ...
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1answer
37 views

What were the challenges for the ancients to observe the orbit of the Moon (instead of Mars)?

Astrophysics can be said to have been founded by Johannes Kepler around the year 1600. He based his break-through science on data of the position of Mars in the sky and disproved the ancient ideas ...
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182 views

Naming of the planets of the solar system

Planets of the solar system have been named with Roman mythology gods names. I have a few questions on my mind concerning that subject for a while: Who decided to name them like this? When did the ...
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Who discovered what set of factors is responsible for visibility of celestial bodies on Earth's daytime sky?

Visibility of a celestial body on the sky during the day depends on a number of factors - if I recall correctly: the body's magnitude, Seeing, Sky brightness, and probably some others I have missed. ...
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45 views

How was Henrietta Leavitt's discovery important for star measurement? [duplicate]

Henrietta Leavitt discovered a relation between luminosity and period of variable stars, so it was possible to measure distance between two variable stars. I am curious to know how that was important ...
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2k views

How did Kepler “guess” his third law from data?

It is amazing that Kepler determined his three laws by looking at data, without a calculator and using only pen and paper. It is conceivable how he proved his laws described the data after he had ...
3
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2answers
111 views

Are there stars in the first photo from space?

Wikipedia has this photo (see below) labelled "First photo from space" which was taken in 1946 from a U.S. launched German V-2 rocket. Approximately two thirds of the image is a section of the Earth ...
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1answer
92 views

Why didn't Johannes Kepler use data about more planets?

In Astronomia Nova (1609) Johannes Kepler used observations of Mars in order to refute circular orbits. Throughout Astronomia Nova he hardly even mentions other planets than Mars, Earth and the Sun ...
2
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1answer
85 views

Is there a general term for epicycles, deferents, and eccentrics in Ptolemaic astronomy?

According to Ptolemy's (c. 150 CE) account of the motions of planets, planets moved in circular paths ("epicycles") around center points that in turn moved around the center of the earth along a path ...
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1answer
608 views

How was the Earth-Sun distance originally calculated?

AFAIK it was possible long before the first interplanetary probes. Who did it?
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66 views

Original Hubble diagram units incorrect?

Figure 1 from Hubble 1929 has velocity with units of km. Is this just a typo or was there a reason the plot is printed this way?
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2answers
300 views

How did Kepler determine the orbital period of Mars?

As I understand it, Kepler used the orbital period of Mars, along with observational data of Mars' and the sun's position in the sky to derive the orbits of Earth and Mars. (As described, here: ...
2
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1answer
82 views

How might Thales have predicted a solar eclipse?

Thales of Miletus purportedly predicted a solar eclipse (most likely the solar eclipse of May 28, 585 BCE). The historicity of Thales' prediction can't be verified with any certainty given the ...
7
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1answer
246 views

Was the progress of astronomy in the 1800s surprisingly slow, and if so why? [closed]

The 1800's was a century of fantastic scientific discoveries in chemistry, geology, biology, engineering and so on. Is it correct to say that astronomy did not keep up with this development? And if ...
4
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1answer
152 views

How did Copernicus get the idea of heliocentric model?

The heliocentric model marked the beginning of modern astronomy. But what were the reasons which led Copernicus to think that the earth orbited the sun. I've read that his model was based on ...
3
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2answers
134 views

What's the origin and culture of funny astronomical terminology?

I'm not in the industry myself, but as an interested member of the public the terminology of astronomy seems a bit funny. Astronomers who today talk publicly about the interstellar medium say that the ...