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

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Before Voyager 2, what were the highest quality photos of Uranus and Neptune?

I'm in search of historical knowledge of the outer ice giants, which seems so hard to come by. Right now I would be happy with just a photo of each, the best photo we had of them before Voyager 2. ...
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17 views

Are lunar occultations visible to the naked eye?

The Moon occults a lot of stars. But are these events visible to the naked eye? Won't it be blinded out by the crescent even at its thinnest just before sunrise? Did ancient astronomers actually ...
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3answers
149 views

How did our ancestors discover the Solar System?

I wonder, how did our ancestors discover the Solar System? They did not have any telescopes to see distant objects, right? Even a planet looks like a star from a distance. They discovered the ...
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1answer
41 views

Who invented the blink comparator?

The Wikipedia page for the blink comparator fails to mention who invented it. Many other pages extol the importance of the device, but we cannot find any mention of an inventor. Wikipedia does ...
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1answer
68 views

Why was Pluto's resonance not discovered until 1965?

Over here, I was shocked to learn: The Neptune–Pluto system lies in a 3:2 orbital resonance. C.J. Cohen and E.C. Hubbard at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division discovered this in ...
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25 views

Available data on the Milky way around 1920

In a book by Alexander Moszkowski, there is an Einstein quote about a hypothetical size of the universe (100 million Light years). Moszkowski claims that Einstein had deduced that from the ...
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1answer
71 views

How well do planetary orbits fit with Johannes Kepler's in- & circumscribed Platonic solids?

In Mysterium Cosmographicum (1596) Johannes Kepler proposed that the relative distances between the orbits of the six ancient planets (six because heliocentrism had recently added Earth as one of the ...
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2answers
57 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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24 views

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
40 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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2answers
215 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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39 views

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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48 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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3k 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 ...
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2answers
113 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
95 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 ...
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1answer
103 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
796 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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1answer
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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334 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: ...
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1answer
86 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 ...
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1answer
280 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
160 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 ...
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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 ...