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Astronomical Knowledge from Copernicus to Newton

People have always been looking in the sky to find an answer to the question, what our world actually is. Admittedly, the 17th century brought about specific conditions that promoted the rapid development of astronomy. These are mainly the geographical discoveries of that time, the invention of tools necessary for astronomical observations, and the impact of the Renaissance on people’s minds. No surprise, the period of time between Copernicus and Newton is considered to be the heyday of the science of cosmos and the cornerstone of the Scientific Revolution.

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Indeed, astronomy used to be nearly prohibited back in times. Religion was generally accepted to be the only verified source of all knowledge. However, after the Age of Discovery, people started doubting that Christian priests could tell them undeniable truth about the world around them. If they had been mistaken about the Old World is the center of the Earth, there could be a possibility that the Earth is not the center of the Universe. It was Copernicus who demolished that myth once and for all (Skjelver, Arnold, Broedel et al., n. d.). Therefore, his peers and followers, such as Galileo Galilee, Johannes Kepler, Christiaan Huygens, and Isaac Newton, acquired the inspiration to make discoveries influencing natural science in general.

Sometimes there should be a small invention to cause a long chain of revolutionary discoveries in a certain field. As the telescope was created in 1608, modern astronomy was born as a branch of science (Rabin, 2019). Studying heavens, many enthusiasts began to open new cosmic bodies. Still, the main part of their researches was to summarise the current data and prepare their own theories about the way these bodies move. It turned out that astronomy was deeply connected with mathematics (Tyson, 2005). When Newton developed his three laws of motion, astronomy was destined to become an indispensable part of human thought.

Still, the Renaissance made an unprecedented contribution to astronomy because it drew attention to science in general. The gist of humanistic ideas of that time was the axiom that almost all progressive aspects of human activity are valuable and worthy of social approval. The stigma of sorcery and devilry was no longer attached to people studying the scientific laws. There was no longer a need to conceal passion for astronomy because there were more and more people ready to accept the newborn philosophy and methodology of natural science.


Rabin, S. (2019). Nicolaus Copernicus. (E. N. Zalta, Ed.). The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Skjelver, D., Arnold, D., Broedel, H. P., Glasco, S. B., Kim, B., Broedel, S. D. (n.d.). History of applied science & technology [eBook edition]. Creative Commons Attribution.

Tyson, P. (2005). Newton’s Legacy. NOVA.

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