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How was it first determined that Earth orbits the Sun?

 
 
Reply Thu 8 Jan, 2004 01:38 pm
Sorry if this is an easy question, but my memory of certain basic astronomical discoveries is a bit hazy at the moment...

I can't remember who first discovered that the Earth orbits the Sun (and not the other way around), and more interestingly, I can't figure out *how* it was first determined that this was the case.

When was it first discovered that the Earth orbits the Sun, and who discovered it, and *how* was it first determined?

Thanks,
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 7,208 • Replies: 61
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Craven de Kere
 
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Reply Thu 8 Jan, 2004 01:47 pm
1543 - Nicolaus Copernicus - Copernican theory

I could go into the how but armed with its name you can find many explanations that would be more thorough.
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Craven de Kere
 
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Reply Thu 8 Jan, 2004 01:48 pm
Here's one: http://es.rice.edu/ES/humsoc/Galileo/newsite/galileo/sci/theories/copernican_system.html
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Setanta
 
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Reply Thu 8 Jan, 2004 01:50 pm
I believe that the Greeks came up with the idea long before Copernicus. I would suggest that Copernicus be offered as the source for the "re-introduction" of the concept.

However, i don't recall to whom i should refer you. Perhaps to Anaxamander, or Pytheas, or perhaps Callippus. Good question, Boss, because all of this refers to "the western world." Other civilizations were obsessed with astronomy as well, and i don't feel well enough informed to say that none of them did not demonstrate the principle.
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rosborne979
 
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Reply Thu 8 Jan, 2004 01:52 pm
Craven de Kere wrote:
1543 - Nicolaus Copernicus - Copernican theory

I could go into the how but armed with its name you can find many explanations that would be more thorough.


Yes, I just found Copernicus, but I haven't yet read how he arrived at his conclusions. I'll read your link.

Also, was Copernicus the *first* to recognize the heliocentric system, or did older cultures show evidence of it as well? I'm wondering about the Aztecs and Inca's and such.

Thanks,
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Setanta
 
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Reply Thu 8 Jan, 2004 01:54 pm
Among the tribes of central America, i'd say you'd find more information on astronomical investigation among the Maya.

Also, check out Hindu cosmology, as well as the island of Bali. I'm not certain about the ancient Chinese--although i know they practiced astronomy, i don't know the details.
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Craven de Kere
 
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Reply Thu 8 Jan, 2004 01:56 pm
Hmm, I recall vaguely being told that other cultures had heliocentric theories but I remember thinking that they wer as arbitrarily come upon as the geocentric one.

I don't think the Copernican theory really established it either. I think there was subsequent turning points.

Hmm, now you have me curious too. If you find the answer about the *how* please share it with us.
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dyslexia
 
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Reply Thu 8 Jan, 2004 01:56 pm
my memory is weak but Ptolemy rings a bell in me head.
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rosborne979
 
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Reply Thu 8 Jan, 2004 01:59 pm
Setanta wrote:
I believe that the Greeks came up with the idea long before Copernicus. I would suggest that Copernicus be offered as the source for the "re-introduction" of the concept.


Yes, I saw your post after mine went in... this is also what I was wondering.

Craven de Kere wrote:
Hmm, now you have me curious too. If you find the answer about the *how* please share it with us.


Yes, the *how* part is really what I'm curious about.

Some of the web links I've perused seem to indicate that it was a "collective" discovery which derived from observations of other planetary motions (such as Jupiter's moons by Galileo).

I'm still searching...
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Setanta
 
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Reply Thu 8 Jan, 2004 02:01 pm
Why don't you try googling "heliocentric theories" or something to that effect. I'd be happy to oblige you myself, but i'm lazy as sin, and twice as much fun.
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Setanta
 
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Reply Thu 8 Jan, 2004 02:01 pm
Excellent question, btw, Boss . . . it's always good when you set this crowd to wondering . . .
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rosborne979
 
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Reply Thu 8 Jan, 2004 02:08 pm
Setanta wrote:
Excellent question, btw, Boss . . . it's always good when you set this crowd to wondering . . .


Actually my girlfriend asked me this the other day and I couldn't answer it. And right when I was playing Mr. Know-it-all in astronomy too, serves me right Smile

She asked me how it was first discovered, and after a bit of um... well... uh, I had to admit that I didn't know. All I could remember was someone (Galileo I think) observing sailing ships through telescope and noticing that the masts appeared first before the bow. But this was how the Earth was confirmed to be not flat, it wasn't how Heliocentricity was determined.
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dyslexia
 
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Reply Thu 8 Jan, 2004 02:12 pm
um thinking the "reseach" was originally done in Egypt with measured distances and shadow lengths.
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farmerman
 
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Reply Thu 8 Jan, 2004 04:28 pm
In surveying we were taught that Aristarchus first developed a rigorous proof of a sun centered relationship. he was shot down because his proofs were not able to be tested. I remember that one argument was
"If the earth moves and you throw something strait up in the air , it will land in a different spot" QED ok Aristarchus youre wrong.
I think it was like 300BC. Look up Aristarchus of Samis
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rosborne979
 
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Reply Thu 8 Jan, 2004 04:29 pm
[In about 270 B.C., Aristarchus of Samos proposed the helicentric model of solar system, which correctly placed the Sun at the center with Earth and the other planets revolving around it. He reashed his conclustion after estimating the relative sizes of Earth, the Moon, and the Sun and discovering that the Sun was much larger than Earth. But the idea was disregarded until nearly 1,900 years later, largely because of the strength of the prevailing geocentric belief, based on Greek Philosophy and religion, that Earthitself was the center of the solar system.]

Source: http://spacediscovery.8m.com/history

[Written records, observatories, monuments, measuring instruments, and other artifacts show that most ancient civilizations not only studied the skies, but did so with considerable accuracy.The Summerians, Babylonians, Egyptians, and Chinese made the first known recorded measurements of the stars and the movement of the planets.
By about the fifth century B.C., Babylonians had identified the region of sky through witch the Sun, Moon, and plantes move as viewed from Earth, and they had named several "planet gods" visible to the human eyes - the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn (the basis of out names for the seven days of the week).]

Considering ancient structures like Stonehenge and some American Indian astronomical sites, I also wonder if they realized the true structure of the solar system, but never recorded the knowledge.
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rosborne979
 
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Reply Thu 8 Jan, 2004 04:30 pm
farmerman wrote:
Look up Aristarchus of Samis


Thanks Farmerman. We posted at almost the same time Smile
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roger
 
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Reply Thu 8 Jan, 2004 05:26 pm
I've always wondered how Avagadro found his number. I have fantasies involving Mrs. Avagadro sitting around counting molecules.
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Ceili
 
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Reply Thu 8 Jan, 2004 05:39 pm
The buddhists from India studied the earth's path around the sun. The ancients built Angkor Wat in Cambodia with mathematical accuracy and intracacy.
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fresco
 
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Reply Thu 8 Jan, 2004 05:43 pm
Forgive my perversity here but I always understood that the heliocentric system was preferred because it made the equations simpler. There is no "objective truth" and in "fact" the Sun and Earth could be considered to rotate about a common centre of gravity. This is case where "elegance" is utilized in choice of explanation.

So in my book the question is not how but why.
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Adrian
 
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Reply Thu 8 Jan, 2004 05:55 pm
Galileo discovered that sunlight moved across other planets like it did on Earth. This meant that all the planets including the Earth must orbit the sun. I think that's about the earliest "proof" of the heliocentric model but it took a lot of work by Kepler and then Newton before it was widely accepted.
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