The tag has no wiki summary.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

11
votes
2answers
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 ...
7
votes
1answer
186 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
votes
2answers
288 views

How was the Earth-Sun distance originally calculated?

AFAIK it was possible long before the first interplanetary probes. Who did it?
4
votes
2answers
225 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: ...
4
votes
1answer
87 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
119 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
votes
2answers
110 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
131 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
63 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?
2
votes
1answer
72 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
64 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 ...
0
votes
0answers
22 views

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

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 ...