New Scientific Era (07:05)
In 1953, Nicholas Copernicus theorized heliocentrism, but his model still featured celestial bodies contained within concentric crystalline spheres. In 1577, Tycho Brahe observed a comet going through Venus's orbit, impossible according to understood astronomy.
Laws of Planetary Motion (03:25)
Johannes Kepler witnessed the 1577 comet as a child; he believed classical astrology should be discarded and based on empirical observation. He recalculated planetary orbits using Brahe's data, discovering they moved elliptically; he published his theory in "Astronomia Nova."
Keeping All Together (04:23)
Isaac Newton claimed the laws governing Earth were the same as elsewhere in the Universe; he proposed the Law of Gravity. His theory was proved by a comet's elliptical orbit found caused by the sun's mass.
Revolutionary Timepiece (06:09)
During the 16th century, seafaring empires needed accurate navigation; no longitudinal measurements were available, and errors in location resulted in disaster. John Harrison invented a pendulum sea clock and the watch, unaffected by motion and enabling precise orientation at sea.
Upgrading Technology (04:08)
William and Caroline Herschel improved on telescopes, observing and cataloging thousands of stars. In 1781, he discovered Uranus; in 1789, he found the sixth and seventh moons of Saturn.
Stimulating Imaginations (05:57)
Jules Verne's "From the Earth to the Moon" epitomized science fiction influenced by astronomical discoveries; he inspired the idea of projectiles reaching the moon. In the 1960s, Project Harp attempted cannon firing a satellite into orbit; they achieved new altitudes, but failed to breach atmosphere.
Anticipating Alien Threats (02:32)
Giovanni Schiaparelli studied Mars in detail as it passed close to Earth in 1877; he described its features as seen through a telescope. Misinterpretation of his writings triggered speculation regarding Martians and inspired more science fiction, personified in H.G. Well's "War of the Worlds."
Massive and Growing (02:25)
At the start of the 20th century, scientists believed the Milky Way was the universe; Albert Einstein thought it fixed and finite. George Lemaitre recalculated his equations, discovering an expanding cosmos.
Proving Lemaitre Calculations (06:32)
Edwin Hubble studied nebulae from Palomar Observatory, housing the most powerful telescope of its time. He discovered the Andromeda was another galaxy and measured its distance from Earth; he confirmed that the universe was dynamic and expanding.
Finding the Beginning (02:51)
Proof of an expanding universe triggered questions regarding its formation. Scientists hypothesized that all mass was contained in the Primeval Atom, creating the premise for the Big Bang Theory.
Age of New Discoveries (02:51)
The Hubble telescope’s Deep Field Image reveals billions of galaxies. The further we can see into universe, the better we can determine its origins; leftover energy from the Big Bang has allowed scientists to estimate its age at 13.8 billion years.
Future Observatory (03:45)
The Extremely Large Telescope will be the largest optical telescope ever, and due for completion in 2025. It will be able to detect planets around other stars. Ninety-five percent of the universe is yet unknown.
Credits: Our Place in the Universe (00:30)
Credits: Our Place in the Universe
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