The universe was once a vast uncharted area; an area of the unknown. People looked up to the sky in wonder and awe, curious as to what was beyond Earth. What were those lights in the sky? Where did they come from? How did they get there? As time has passed, the universe made up of stars and planets has evolved. What we did not know before, we know now, our cosmos has changed immensely, transforming into what we now call our solar system.
Before people had the knowledge and technology we have today, the heavenly skies were an area of endless speculation and inspiration. People from all around the world created their own myths and explanations about the cosmos and the celestial bodies within it. Roughly six thousand years in the past, the Sumerians had the belief that Earth lied in the center of the universe. The Babylonians and Greek civilizations further carried this same belief into their centuries, depicting the heavenly skies as a cosmos revolving around the earth.
Looking back into history, the Greeks were the first to put forward the idea that planet Earth was a sphere (now known as an oblate ellipsoid). Then around 340 BC, a Greek philosopher named Aristotle made the discovery of a few of our most influential and fundamental theories that helped to further prove this idea. Aristotle first proposed that one always witnesses the sails of a ship approaching past the horizon first and then its framework. This suggested that the surface of the ocean must be curved and not flat as it was once thought to be. Secondly, Aristotle discovered that the eclipses of the moon were generated by the shadow that Earth casted on it. This further proved the point that if the Earth was flat, the shadow it casted upon the Moon would not appear to be round, unless the Sun was positioned directly beneath the center of Earth. Aristotle’s third discovery from which he realized during his far away travels to foreign countries, was the explanation of something that the Greeks had already proposed. The Greeks had known that the North Star appeared to be higher on the northern empyrean and lower in the southern region. Aristotle further explained this precisely with the parallactic shift that would occur when advancing amid two points of observation on a spheroidal object. The Greeks then presented the heliocentric system by the Pythagoreans and Aristarchus of Samos (ca. 270 BC). However, Aristotle disregarded the Greeks proposition.
Aristotle’s influence on the discoveries of the universe were very eloquent. Roughly around the time of 150 AD, Claudius Ptolemaeus otherwise referred to as Ptolemy, further embellished the ideas of Aristotle into a complete model of the cosmos. Ptolemy thought that Earth remained stationary in the center of the universe. He then proposed that the Sun, stars, and all of the planets revolved around Earth in annular orbit. The model was then sometimes referred to as the geocentric model. “Ptolemy was aware that the postulation of...