Renaissance View of the Universe

Essay by SmikJunior High, 8th grade March 2004

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Through history people have been very interested in what lay above them. Every night as the people would go to sleep they would look up and wonder, what are those white dots up there? Some of the astrologers who would observe the night sky knowing that the white dots are planets and stars were convinced that the planets had an influence on their people, and so would spend the night trying to find reasons to how the planets influenced their people on making the moves they made.

However in the age of the Renaissance the subject was quite different. Rather than studying astrology, scientists started studying a new science by the name of astronomy. Astronomy was to do with getting a better picture of the universe. To do so astronomers looked at the orbits of different stars and planets.

Claudius Ptolemy (100 AD - 170 AD)

Claudius Ptolemy didn't actually live in the Renaissance age (as you can hopefully see) but he's a good starting point so that you people can understand the way the Renaissance developed in the study of astronomy.

Though Claudius Ptolemy was probably born in Greece, ancient reports state that he lived as well as worked in Alexandria, Egypt for most of his life.

In his work in astronomy Ptolemy accepted the universe as Geocentric - Theory stating that earth lies motionless in the middle of the universe with other planets and stars having circular orbits around it. This, as we know today is not correct. But not to blame it all on Ptolemy, it turns out that Aristotle (384 - 322 BC) started the whole Geocentrism thing off.

Nicolaus Copernicus (1473 - 1543)

Going over to the Men of the Renaissance. Copernicus was born in Poland. His maternal uncle,