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The History of Astronomyplato.lib.umn.edu/
History of Astronomy2IntroductionWestern astronomy divides into 4 periods1. Prehistoric (before 500B.C.)Cyclical motions of Sun, Moon and stars observedKeeping time and determining directions develops2. Classical (500B.C.toA.D.1400)Measurements of the heavensGeometry and models to explain motions3. Renaissance (1400 to 1650)Accumulation of data lead to better modelsTechnology (the telescope) enters picture4. Modern (1650 to present)Physical laws and mathematical techniquesTechnological advances accelerate
The Model of the CosmosIt’s a natural thing for people to want tounderstand the world around them.People build models, a (simplified?)conceptual framework that represents thereal world and operates in a mannerconsistent with observations.To be successful, a model MUST be ableto do two things…
Model BuildingA model must accept and incorporate allcareful, accurate observations.Noobservations may be convenientlydiscarded, simply because they contradictthe model. [The model must be refined!]A model must be able to make accuratepredictions of future events.
Models ChangeTake note of how the model of the cosmoschanges as new observations becomeavailable.Take note also of the forces whichresisted logical changes: mental inertia,political censorship and religious dogma.
History of Astronomy61. Prehistoric AstronomyThe basis of prehistoric astronomy:Celestial SphereCelestial SphereRising and setting of Sun, Moon, andstarsConstellationsAnnual motion of Sun *Motion of planets through zodiacPhases of the MoonEclipses*
Practical UsesAncient Americans were farmers and needed toknow the best time for planting and harvesting.With farming came a practical need for acalendar.As civilization developed, deeper meanings wereattached to astronomical phenomenon.An overall trend: the more settled a culturebecame, the more religious meanings becameattached to the sky.
The Roots of AstronomyAlready in the stone and bronze ages,human cultures realized the cyclicnature of motions in the sky.Monuments dating back to ~ 3000 B.C.

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Term
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Professor
MS.PSYCH
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