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Ch 1: The History of Astronomy

About This Chapter

Watch online astronomy video lessons to learn about constellations, the Copernican Revolution, Kepler's laws of planetary motion and more. These lessons are just a portion of our online study guide and video collection.

The History of Astronomy - Chapter Summary and Learning Objectives

The study of astronomical phenomena might seem like a relatively new practice; there's a lot of complicated physics required to classify stars' spectral sequence or detect the background radiation emitted by the Big Bang. But in fact, the study of astronomy has been occurring ever since ancient societies sorted out their calendar years with observations that could be made with the naked eye. Let instructors teaching this chapter help you chart some of the early progress made in this field with lessons on the following:

  • Ancient methods for telling and tracking time
  • Relationship between celestial objects and the Earth's orbit
  • Impact of the Copernican Revolution and Galileo's observations
  • Contributions of Brahe, Kepler and Newton to the study of astronomy

Video Objectives
The Scientific Field of Astronomy Learn which astronomical objects and events are studied in this field.
The Ancient Study of Astronomy Survey ancient cultures' purposes for studying astronomy. Outline their contributions to this field.
The Constellations: Definition & Name Origins Pinpoint some of the more well known constellations. Explain how they came to be named.
What Is Astrology? Get an introduction to astrology as practiced by ancient peoples. Find out why its core principles have been rejected by the scientific community.
The Zodiac Constellations & Their Visibility in the Sky Explain why we can view each of the constellations in this group at various points in the Earth's orbit.
Telling Time in Ancient Times Take a closer look at methods used by ancient peoples to chart the course of a day and determine the time of year.
The Lunar Calendar & Metonic Cycle Differentiate between the length of the lunar calendar and the Metonic cycle by describing some of the dates that fall within them.
The Connection Between the Seven Days of the Week & Astronomical Objects Relate days of the week to the names of astronomical objects.
Geocentric, Heliocentric & Ptolemaic Models of the Universe Describe the heliocentric model of the solar system. Compare it to geocentric models in general and the Ptolemaic model in particular.
The Copernican Revolution Learn how Copernicus's heliocentric model of the solar system changed the study of astronomy.
Tycho Brahe's Contribution to Astronomy Assess the impact of observations made by Brahe on the study of astronomy.
Kepler's Three Laws of Planetary Motion Use Kepler's laws to describe the orbital radius and period of planets, comets and asteroids. Study the relationship between these objects' orbits and gravitational force.
Galileo, the Telescope & the Church Survey Galileo's contributions to the scientific method, his improvements to the telescope and his conflicts with the Catholic church over the heliocentric model of the universe.
Sir Isaac Newton And Astronomy Explore how Newton's achievements impacted the study of astronomy, both directly and indirectly.

15 Lessons in Chapter 1: The History of Astronomy
The Scientific Field of Astronomy

1. The Scientific Field of Astronomy

Space is a large and exciting place, full of things we have yet to discover. Astronomy aims to uncover the mysteries of space, something people have been fascinated with as long as they have been on Earth.

The Ancient Study of Astronomy

2. The Ancient Study of Astronomy

This lesson will teach you about three important cultures and civilizations that contributed much to our understanding of astronomy. They include the Babylonians, Maya, and Greeks.

The Constellations: Definition & Name Origins

3. The Constellations: Definition & Name Origins

This lesson will teach you about ancient constellations and how they came to be. We'll define modern constellations and learn why they're important. You'll also learn about the differences between a constellation and an asterism.

What is Astrology?

4. What is Astrology?

This lesson will teach you about astrology, tell you if it's the same thing as astronomy, why or why not, and discuss the reasons astrology is so good at predicting so many different things. I predict that you might enjoy this lesson.

The Zodiac Constellations & Their Visibility in the Sky

5. The Zodiac Constellations & Their Visibility in the Sky

The zodiac is a concept that spans thousands of years. You'll learn how the zodiac and the ecliptic are related, as well as the origin of the horoscope, in this lesson.

Telling Time in Ancient Times

6. Telling Time in Ancient Times

This lesson will explore the concepts of time and telling time in ancient history, including the lunar phase cycle, the calendar, the sundial, and how ancient people viewed time compared to us.

The Lunar Calendar & Metonic Cycle

7. The Lunar Calendar & Metonic Cycle

This lesson will discuss the lunar calendar, luni-solar calendar, the Metonic cycle, and how they relate to keeping time in the ancient world and even some calendars today.

The Connection Between the Seven Days of the Week & Astronomical Objects

8. The Connection Between the Seven Days of the Week & Astronomical Objects

This lesson will explain to you why the English language has its current names for its days of the week and what Roman gods and Anglo-Saxons have to do with it.

Geocentric, Heliocentric & Ptolemaic Models of the Universe

9. Geocentric, Heliocentric & Ptolemaic Models of the Universe

This lesson will lay out for you how ancient Greek philosophers came up with their models of the universe,. We'll also look at who Ptolemy was and what he contributed, and whether or not the Greeks were correct.

The Copernican Revolution

10. The Copernican Revolution

This lesson will discuss a famous astronomer by the name of Nicolaus Copernicus, his early history, his revolutionary idea, and why his model of the universe was actually wrong.

Tycho Brahe's Contribution to Astronomy

11. Tycho Brahe's Contribution to Astronomy

There was a man who did not believe Ptolemy's version of the universe nor did he believe in Copernicus's views on the universe. Who was this daring man? He was Tycho Brahe. We'll learn about him in this lesson.

Kepler's Three Laws of Planetary Motion

12. Kepler's Three Laws of Planetary Motion

Find out about the interesting life and major contributions of Johannes Kepler. This lesson will also teach you how to find out how long it takes a planet to revolve around the sun!

Galileo, the Telescope & the Church

13. Galileo, the Telescope & the Church

This lesson explores the contributions of Galileo to modern science. It examines his early steps toward a scientific method, his work on falling bodies and, of course, his astronomical discoveries. Finally, the Church's reaction to these discoveries is explored.

Sir Isaac Newton And Astronomy

14. Sir Isaac Newton And Astronomy

This lesson will teach you about Newton's laws of motion and universal gravitation as well as why the moon doesn't fly off into space and why it doesn't crash into the Earth.

Origins of the Julian & Gregorian Calendars

15. Origins of the Julian & Gregorian Calendars

The Julian calendar and Gregorian calendar were both revolutionary in their own right. Find out who's responsible for putting them into place and which one of the two we use today and why.

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