Archive for Astronomy
Galileo Galilei was an Italian physicist and astronomer and a key figure of the Scientific Revolution, when science and the occult began to part ways. He was a supporter of Nicolaus Copernicus’ theory of heliocentrism, which stated that the Sun is at the center of the universe. This upset the clergy, who had him arrested and convicted for heresy since the theory contradicted the Holy Scriptures. A popular legend says that Galilei rebelliously muttered “And yet, it moves” after being forced to recant this theory, but there is no evidence that this was the case.
Galileo’s numerous contributions to the fields of astronomy and physics include improvements to the telescope, confirmation of the phases of Venus, the discovery of Jupiter’s four largest sattelites (later named the Galilean moons), improvements to the military compass
Galileo’s arrest came after the publishing of Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. In this book, he defended his heliocentric views, which were highly controversial at the time, even among astronomers. The Dialogue was interpreted as an attack on Pope Urban VIII, which led to Galileo not only being arrested, but also alienating a lot of his supporters. He was tried, found ”vehemently suspect of heresy” and spent the rest of his life under house arrest in his villa at Arcetri, near Florence.
In recent times, the Catholic Church expressed regret over Galileo’s imprisonment on multiple occasions. In 1992, Pope John Paul II officially acknowledged the wrongdoings of the clergy towards Galileo. In 2008, Pope Benedict XIV praised his contributions to astronomy. According to Stephen Hawking, nobody had as much impact on the birth of modern science as Galileo, while Albert Einstein dubbed him the father of modern science.
|Born: 19 February 1473, Torun, Polish Kingdom
Died: 24 May 1543, Prince-Bishopric of Warmia, Polish Kingdom
Nicolaus Copernicus is a German-Polish astronomer who first formulated the theory of a heliocentric universe, with the Sun at the center. This theory, later outlined in his book On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres, began the Copernican revolution, which was a cornerstone of the scientific revolution, when science and the occult became more and more distinct from each other.
Controversy against Copernicus’ theory was very scarce initially. Even the clergy approached the idea with an open mind when the Archbishop of Capua (southern Italy) wrote Copernicus a letter, encouraging him to spread the idea and send him his writings. The full Revolutions ,however, wasn’t printed until shortly before Copernicus’ death. After Copernicus’ passing, his book attracted a much greater deal of controversy, with prominent members of the clergy condemning heliocentrism, mostly becuase it contradicted the Bible. Galileo Galilei, one of Copernicus’ most well-known supporters, was infamously convicted for heresy in 1633, placing him under house arrest for the rest of his life.
Works defending heliocentrism were on the Catholic Church’s list of banned books until 1758 and the original uncensored Revolutions wasn’t removed from the list until 1835. In 2005, Copernicus’ remains were exhumed and given a proper burial in 2010, with the tombstone shaped like a golden sun with 6 planets surrounding it.
|Born: November 9, 1934 in Brooklyn, New York, USA
Died: December 20, 1996 in Seattle, Washington, USA
|Fields: Astronomy, Scientific Communication
Carl Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist and science communicator. He was born in 1934 in Brooklyn, New York to Rachel Molly Gruber and Samuel Sagan, an immigrant garment worker from Russia, modern day Ukraine. He spent most of his career as an astronomy professor and Planetary Studies laboratory director at Cornell University (Ithaca, New York), but he is best known for popularizing science. He did this through a number of well-received books and TV shows, such as the award winning 1980 television show Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which Sagan co-wrote and narrated. His goal was to get people to understand the cosmos better. In all his works, he tried to emphasize the worthiness of the human race, while highlighting the insignificance of Earth compared to the universe. Sagan justified his passion for scientific communication with a number of reasons. The first was that engaging the public would result in more scientific funding and public support. The other was the pure experience of conveying one’s excitement about the universe.
Neil deGrasse Tyson in as American astrophysicist, who also hosted Nova ScienceNow, an educational science show, on PBS from 2006 to 2011.
Tyson was born in Manhattan, New York to gerontologist Sunchita Feliciano Tyson and sociologist Cyril deGrasse Tyson, but was raised in the Bronx. After a visit to the Hayden Planetarium (where he is now the director) at the age of 9, he became obsessed with astronomy and later in his life (1972 – 1976) attended the Bronx High School of Science with emphasis on astrophysics. Read More→