Questions tagged [history]

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

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
5
votes
2answers
697 views

How was the first exoplanet detected?

How was the first exoplanet discovered? What method was used to detect it?
4
votes
4answers
1k views

How did the Ancients understand the ecliptic using the Ptolemaic system

I studied the Farnese Atlas and I wonder how did the Ancients discover the ecliptic, the equator, etc. with the Ptolemaic system namely without knowing that the Earth rotates on itself, especially for ...
1
vote
1answer
150 views

How are the elevations of the poles proportionate to distances of earth that have been traversed according to Copernicus

In chapter 2 of "The Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres" where Copernicus maintains that the Earth is spherical, the Edward Rosen translation of the book states that the elevations of the poles ...
1
vote
2answers
263 views

Celestial navigation from scratch

Is it possible to establish one's longitude and latitude by observing the stars? Can you use observations of the stars to find the relative distance between two locations, which would be useful in map-...
0
votes
2answers
160 views

When were the horizontal and equatorial celestial coordinate systems invented?

When were the Alt-az system and the RA-dec system first used?
1
vote
3answers
313 views

Why the continued obsession in measuring the year as a multiple of days?

Pick a any notion of year and any type of day measurement. Outside of history and the common cycle of day an night, why are these viewed as integrally or even fractionally commensurate? Why all the ...
8
votes
2answers
567 views

Was there ever a hypothesis about a planet called Biga?

I just re-read a popular astronomy book that was published when I was a child, about 1973. It starts with an interview to Harold C. Urey where the interviewer asks about a hypothetical planet in our ...
5
votes
0answers
170 views

Kepler - Creating the Ellipse (Astronomia Nova)

In Chapter 58 in Astronomia Nova, Kepler made his final step to finally create the ellipse (for the orbit of planets) http://science.larouchepac.com/kepler/newastronomy/part4/58/index.html In the ...
3
votes
2answers
273 views

Exoplanet hunters ignored or ridiculed in the 1980s or 1990s?

I recently came across this youtube video, in which a few people are singing about the history of exoplanet discovery. It suggests that, in the 1990s, exoplanet hunters were largely ignored or ...
9
votes
1answer
825 views

Which star did Uranus occult in 1977 when the planet's rings were discovered?

In 1977, Uranus occulted a star, and the starlight flickered 40 minutes before and after the actual occultation, revealing Uranus' rings.This is common knowledge to astronomers, but what I can't find ...
1
vote
1answer
469 views

Did Earth "tilt" seasonally before it was accepted that the world was not flat?

Before it was widely accepted that the Earth was round, how did astronomers describe the yearly movement of the sun to south in the Northern Winter that produced the seasons? Did the Earth wobble or ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

Why is the symbol of Vernal Equinox ♈?

Since the direction of Vernal Equinox lies in the Pisces constellation, why is its symbol Aries? Shouldn't it be ♓ ? Is this a historical anachronism, only invalidated by axial precession of Earth?
7
votes
1answer
705 views

Calculating orbits using observational data

How did astronomers in the 18th and 19th centuries used to calculate a comet's or planet's orbit using observational data, given that this data is relative to a non static reference point (i.e. the ...
4
votes
1answer
406 views

Numbers 80 to 85 in Ancient Astronomy

Do any numbers in between 80 and 85 (or thereabouts) hold any relatively important or relatively obvious meaning in ancient astronomy ? A few clarifications: By ancient I mean related to human ...
4
votes
2answers
711 views

How many judges sat on Galileo's trial over heliocentrism and who were they exactly?

I saw several chronologies of the trial online but most of them only mention the name of Urban 8 as involved in the actual court proceedings. How many judges were involved and who were they exactly? ...
1
vote
0answers
37 views

How many judges sat on Galileo's trial and who were they exactly? [duplicate]

I saw several chronologies of the trial online but most of them only mention the name of Urban 8 as involved in the actual court proceedings. How many judges were involved and who were they exactly? ...
3
votes
2answers
260 views

Was the radiant of the Perseid meteor shower ever near Vega thousands of years ago?

The ancient Chinese story of the Weaver Girl (Altair) and the Cowherd (Vega) tell of starcrossed lovers who are only allowed to meet once a year on the 7th day of the 7th (Chinese) lunar month, ...
5
votes
1answer
169 views

Why was the size of the solar system not defined by Mercury Transits?

The first measurements of the (absolute) size of the solar system was made using the Transit of Venus, an event that arguably will only happen twice in a lifetime. Transits of Mercury occur far more ...
0
votes
1answer
135 views

When was the nearest star discovered? [closed]

When historically did we realize that the Sun is a star, like all the others? An answer was posted, then the question was put on hold. I would like to answer: If indeed someone asserted that the Sun ...
2
votes
3answers
4k views

What is the first recorded reference to the Moon being a satellite of the Earth?

I saw a list recently of the moons of the various planets and the discoverer(s) and date of discovery. Earth's Moon was listed as Unknown. I know you don't 'discover' a huge disc in the sky. But ...
1
vote
2answers
76 views

How was precision astrometry done before digital imaging?

Did they just put a ruler on the photographic plate? Quite some precision must have been required to discover Neptune from its influence on Uranus for example.
1
vote
1answer
72 views

Could the Sun's bending of light be measured on photographic plates before Einstein's prediction?

It was predicted from Newtonian physics already in the 18th century that gravity should bend light, but not by as much as general relativity predicts. This was first confirmed during a solar eclipse ...
6
votes
1answer
166 views

Discovery in Astronomy vs one in Physics - do they differ in required burden of evidence?

Discovery in Astronomy/Astrophysics (of astronomical objects) vs discovery of physical phenomena in experimental Physics (as such) - do they differ in required burden of evidence (with the notion, ...
5
votes
4answers
432 views

What planet is better than earth to infer solar system configuration?

The mankind had to work some centuries to infer the real configuration of solar system, starting from greeks, Ptolemeus, until Copernicus, Galilei, Kepler, Newton etc. Is there any planet where we ...
2
votes
2answers
243 views

When did the Scutum constellation receive its current name?

While cleaning my desk, I found an out of date star map (puts the cleaning into perspective, huh?) where the Scutum constellation is still referred to as Scutum Sobiescianum). This is the original ...
4
votes
1answer
401 views

Do all planets rotate in the same direction in relation to each other?

In other words, does everything spin counterclockwise according to their axes (in relation to each other)? I suppose my question goes for stars, moons and other objects too. But then again, all you ...
6
votes
1answer
378 views

How were the orbits of planets first mapped out?

I'd like to know how the orbits of planets were first 'mapped out' and to understand the maths behind it. e.g. How do we know what position in space a planet will be at certain time so that spacecraft ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

When was the term "orbit" (in the modern sense) first used and by whom?

Wikipedia coyly suggests that some notions and views kept circulating (apparently since Adam and Eve) until finally Kepler, of all people, ... etc. I find this hard to believe. Please elucidate.
10
votes
2answers
417 views

Acquirable Raw Data in Amateur Astrophotography

What raw data can I possibly acquire from an 8" Classical Dobsonian Telescope, and a DSLR? Could anything eye-opening to amateur astronomers be computed or calculated first-hand with such equipment? I'...
9
votes
2answers
5k views

Why does the Hertzsprung–Russell diagram's x-axis go from large temperatures to lower?

In my textbook, the H–R diagram’s y-axis is $\log(L/L_{\odot})$ and values are higher as we go higher on the scale, but the x-axis is $\log(T_\text{eff})$ and gets smaller as we proceed to the right. ...
2
votes
2answers
156 views

Which stars have been named after astronomers?

Most apparent stars have ancient names. But some of the newer (since 200 or so years) discoveries have been given the name of some prominent astronomer. Kapteyn's star is one example, and there are ...
2
votes
2answers
7k views

How many constellations in the Zodiac?

The astronomical zodiac contains a bunch of constellations along the ecliptic. Some sources say there are 13 constellations in the astronomical zodiac. Other sources claim there are 12. According ...
4
votes
1answer
228 views

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. ...
2
votes
1answer
224 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
21k 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
349 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
222 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 ...
3
votes
0answers
62 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
281 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 ...
10
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
525 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 ...
8
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
2
votes
0answers
121 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. ...
0
votes
0answers
130 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 ...
24
votes
2answers
7k 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
2answers
242 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
291 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 (...
3
votes
1answer
142 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
24k views

How was the Earth-Sun distance originally calculated?

AFAIK it was possible long before the first interplanetary probes. Who did it?
3
votes
1answer
166 views

Original Hubble diagram units incorrect?

Figure 1 from Hubble 1929 (original paper with open access pdf) has velocity with units of km. Is this just a typo or was there a reason the plot is printed this way?