The Famous ‘Five’ in Modern Astronomy
The foundations of Modern Astronomy were laid by Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Kepler, Galileo and Newton.
Nicholos Copernicus (1473 – 1543 A.D.) inaugurated a new era in astronomy by discarding the old belief in the geocentric motion of the sun and the planets. In his book ‘Revolution of the celestial bodies’, he explained the motion of the earth and other planets around the sun in circular orbits with the sun at the centre and also that of the moon around the earth in a similar orbit. He assumed that earth revolves around the sun once a year and rotates about an axis through its centre once a day from west to east.
Tycho Brahe (1546 – 1601 A.D.) of Prague was a famous Swedish astronomer. He gave Tychonic system with stationary earth, the sun and moon moving around the earth and the planets moving around the sun. He could not see the different phases of Venus and Mercury. So he did not believe in the Copernican Theory of heliocentric motion. But he left behind him a collection of his observations which helped his successor Kepler for his excellent discoveries.
Johannes Kepler (1571 – 1630) was the greatest German astronomer. He joined Tycho Brahe in 1600 and succeeded him as the Imperial Mathematician. After studying for two decades, he formulated his famous three laws of planetary motion. Kepler accepted Copernican theory of heliocentric motion of planets and established elliptical orbit of the planets around the sun. He tried one hypothesis after another to fit the observational data of his predecessor and finally arrived at his laws in 1618. Next year he published the three laws in his ‘Harmonics’.
Galileo Galilei (1564 – 1642 A.D.) was the great Italian astronomer. He disproved the statement made by Aristotle 2000 years before that heavier body falls more quickly. He proved by dropping two bodies of different weights from the leaning tower of Pisa. Galileo believed in the Copernican Theory of heliocentric motion of planets. He was the pioneer of the telescope. With his telescope, he saw the planet Jupiter and its satellites and also the phases of Venus. He established the rotation of earth by experiments. He wrote a book ‘Dialogues on the Ptolemic and Copernican systems’ in which he supported Copernicus and challenged the ideas of Aristotle and Ptolemy. He was considered as enemy of the Church and was humiliated.
Sir Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton (1642 – 1727) was the chief architect of Modern Astronomy. He was the pioneer of Dynamics and Calculus. He contributed a lot to Mathematics and Astronomy. Newton introduced his theory of universal gravitation. Every particle of matter in the universe attracts every other particle with a force that varies directly as the product of their masses and inversely as the square of the distance between them. This was a very brilliant idea and it explained how the sun pulls the planets and causes them all to orbit around it and how the earth pulls the moon and keeps it in its orbit. He explained his principle of universal gravitation and other Mathematical findings in his book ‘Principia Mathematica’.
Hats off to these great people.
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The best Modern Astronomer
Whose contribution do you think made the birth of modern Astronomy?
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