Hot answers tagged

89

Impacting solar system objects would have relative closing speeds from around 11 to 72 km/s. We could take the optimal case that the asteroid approaches whilst fully lit by the Sun (which I think precludes the minimum and maximum speed in the range quoted above) and then scale from another similar body - say the asteroid Vesta. This has a diameter of around ...


50

I think it's maybe not the case that there was a moment when the astronomy community conclusively rejected the ball-of-fire hypothesis; astronomers simply accumulated more and more evidence against it. If you want to put a rough date on it, you could put your finger somewhere in the middle of the 19th century, as by then, other ideas had taken hold. Back in ...


41

The answer is ironic: Without good instruments, there is no evidence. The people who thought that the Sun went around the Earth were perfectly correct as far as the actual evidence went until the early 1700s and mid-1800s when two lines of evidence opened up that showed that the Earth moved. Aberration of Starlight Wikipedia has a correct but over-...


33

Ole Rømer did not measure a change in the frequency of light. He measured an apparent change in the orbital period of Io, one of Jupiter's moons. The orbit of Io can be measured very accurately by observing when it enters or leaves the shadow of Jupiter. When the Earth is moving away from Jupiter, Rømer noted that the orbit of Io appeared to be very ...


29

Kepler's account of how the third law came to be is as follows (Caspar p.286; emphasis mine): On the 8th of March of this year 1618, if exact information about the time is desired, it appeared in my head. But I was unlucky when I inserted it into the calculation, and rejected it as false. Finally, on May 15, it came again and with a new onset conquered ...


29

You make a great point. The reason behind the discrepancy between the dates is due to a complicated history behind it. The calendar is based on the calendar created by ancient Romans, which is based on one Moon cycle. One lunar cycle is 29.53 days. www.universetoday.com/20620/lunar-year/ which does not evenly divide into the 365.25 days of ...


28

Hipparchus, not Kepler Kepler got the conic sections right, and Newton gave us the mechanics. But the question is about when people knew that the Earth was closer to Sol in one part of the year than others, and Hipparchus knew that, even though he wasn't too hot on the values of the orbital radii. Hipparchus' version of the eccentric model had Sol's (...


24

Kepler's third law is trivial (in my opinion) compared to his first law. I am quite impressed that he was able to deduce that the orbits were ellipses. To get that, he had to go back and forth plotting Mars' direction from Earth and Earth's direction from Mars. He knew the length of both planets' years, so observations taken one Mars year apart would differ ...


23

Olber's Paradox was created at a time before the idea of a finite universe was accepted. (It was thought of in the 1600's). In order to resolve Olber's Paradox, you have to introduce the idea that either the universe had a beginning or it is of finite size. (Note: the solution does not require an expanding universe). So, at the time, it was a paradox. ...


23

Johannes Kepler Wikipedia: "However, childhood smallpox left him with weak vision and crippled hands, limiting his ability in the observational aspects of astronomy." He made great use of Tycho Brahes great systematic observations in his theoretical work. He did not need exceptional eyesight for his developments in optics and telescopes.


20

1. Ancient cultures observed the sky Night skies are naturally dark and there was no light-pollution in ancient times. So if weather permits, you can easily see a lot of stars. No need to tell about the Sun and the Moon. Ancient people had good reasons to study the night skies. In many cultures and civilizations, stars (and also the Sun and the Moon) where ...


20

The book The Transits of Venus, by Sheehan and Westfall, describes how Aristarchus used Hipparchus' calculation of the Earth-Moon distance, who in turn used Eratosthenes' calculation of the Earth's circumference, to calculate the Earth-Sun distance. Aristarchus of Samos was the first to seriously calculate the distance to the Sun, using geometry. When the ...


20

Following a reference to Darley et al., ApJ 746, 61 (2012) from your Wikipedia link gives a (very technical) discussion of nova progenitors, including distinctions between nova systems where the secondary stars are main sequence or supergiant stars, and distinctions among white dwarfs with different chemistries. The first sentence of that paper is A ...


19

You cannot prove that the Earth orbits the Sun rather than vice versa because this goes very much against the grain of all frames of reference being equally valid (but some make a lot more sense than others). For example, it makes much more sense to use an Earth-centered, Earth-fixed point of view rather than a non-rotating geocentric, heliocentric, ...


18

Yes, and lunar occultations have proved useful in several cases. Hazard et al. 1963 used a lunar occultation to produce a high-resolution brightness profile of the now well-studied radio quasar 3C 273. Scheuer 1965 goes into a little bit of detail on general computations. A slightly different tack was taken by Vedantham et al. 2015. They were attempting to ...


15

The authors assume a geocentric universe (first thing that is wrong). They then assume that the planet Mars has the same apparent diameter as a globe 30 yojana in diameter (about 150 miles) in the same orbit as the moon, from a perspective at the centre of the Earth. This is just stated, and appears to be supposition. It is an incorrect figure. It is ...


14

To first order, the relative abundances of the heavier elements to iron (for instance) are constant. So the metal content of a star is shorthand for the content of any element heavier than He. (NB: we now know this is not true in many circumstances and elements can be grouped by synthesis process - for example we can talk about "alpha elements" - O, Mg, Si ...


14

I'm pretty certain it is the 200inch Hale telescope at Palomar Observatory. There is an image galley of the 200 inch telescope. According to Richard Preston's book First Light: The Search For The Edge Of The Universe, Einstein attended the completion of the telescope truss, yoke and horseshoe bearing at Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company in ...


13

Despite of the explanation of your question, it is a valid question to ask why planets all have Roman names. First of all, the Romans could, like the Greeks and Sumerians, could only see Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. These planets can be seen with the naked eye. However, the fact that the Romans could see these planets, didn't give all the ...


13

From wikipedia, the rings of uranus The definitive discovery of the Uranian Rings [...] use[d] the occultation of the star SAO 158687[...] The star SAO 158687, also cataloged as HD 128598 is a magnitude 8.7, orange dwarf star in Libra. There seems to be nothing special about the star, except that one day, a planet passed in front of it.


12

If you start with the idea that the planets, the sun, the moon and the earth are all bodies that all move through space, exclude the apparently fixed stars, and then see what evidence there is as to how they move relative to each other, then in that context there is some evidence to be found in naked-eye astronomy aided by navigational instruments available ...


12

I don't have a full historical perspective on this, perhaps someone could add more, but in the past an astronomer could formulate a hypothesis, design an observation schedule, and then hire and coordinate a group of people to cary out the observations and photographic plate exposures develop and analyze those plates measure and reduce the data and then ...


12

Occulations of artificial probes has been used to investigate the ionosphere of the moon. See, for example http://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/2008MSAIS..12...53P In this technique, radio signals from the probe are monitored as the probe passes behind the moon. There is refraction from the lunar ionosphere, which can be detected indirectly, using a doppler ...


11

It was Nova Aquilae 1918. Wikipedia has some detail. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V603_Aquilae Apparently it was discovered by Zygmunt Laskowski, an amateur astronomer.


11

It is possible that there is nothing "official", there is just the technical use of language. For example Phil Plait notes that He incorrectly used the word "orbit" for the motion of the Hayabusa probe, which does not orbit the asteroid Ryugu. But hovers over the surface. So what does Phil mean when he talks about orbiting? I summarize the meaning thus: ...


11

It wasn't one person. René Descartes had theorized that planets must be in the shape of prolate spheroids. Christiaan Huygens and then Isaac Newton theorized that a rotating, self-gravitating fluid body would relax itself into an oblate spheroid. So which view was correct? Giovanni Cassini argued strongly that Descartes' view was the correct one, and he ...


11

This answer was wrong the answer from @JdeBP below convincingly shows that this was know thousands of years earlier than Kepler. I'll leave this answer here in case the information in it is considered a useful part of the story, but this was very far from being the first realisation of this. Looks like this was Kepler in the early 1600s. The source says: ...


10

First off, pairing a classic dob with a DSLR is a bit like a shotgun marriage. A dobsonian is fundamentally a visual telescope. Most manufacturers don't even consider the possibility that these instruments could be used for data collection via a sensor. There are 2 issues here: 1. The dobsonian is not tracking The sky is moving, the dob stays still. You ...


10

Searching for the definition in dictionary.com you can find this under the word origin and history section: Late 14c., "the eye socket," from Old French orbite or directly from Medieval Latin orbita, transferred use of Latin orbita "wheel track, beaten path, rut, course, orbit Astronomical sense first recorded 1690s in English; it was in classical ...


10

After researching a bit more, I think I can answer my own question (or at least share what I have found). When Kepler derived his laws using Tycho Brahe's observational data of Mars, he followed the procedure below: first, the orbital period of Mars must be known. This value was already known in the time of Kepler (aprox. 687 days) $^1$, and can be derived ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible