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History of Science 16th astronomy

History of Science Online

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LibraryThing: Science in Ancient Mesopotamia Week 11: 16th-century Astronomy

Reading 2: Primary sources

# Due Date Pts Activity Time
3 Thursday
11:59 p.m.
25

Topic2 + Quiz
Background: Without a sense of context, history is anachronistic.
Primary sources: Without documentary evidence, history is speculation
The second of two topic assignments per week involving both background and primary sources.

90 min.

Read the following excerpts from Copernicus, On the Revolutions of the Celestial Orbs, found in Michael Crowe, Theories of the World. The study questions are listed along with each part of the reading, rather than listed below as usual. Parentheses include page numbers from the second edition; they will vary a little in the first edition.

  1. Title page (p. 100).
    1. T or F The De revolutionibus of Copernicus was printed in Rome.
    2. T or F Copernicus mentions the solid celestial spheres in the title of his book.
  2. Osiander's preface (pp. 101-102).
    1. T or F Osiander defended Copernicus by arguing that observations prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that his system must be correct.
    2. T or F Osiander defended the view that astronomical hypotheses must provide a basis for accurate calculations, but need not be true.
    3. T or F Osiander defended the view that astronomy must be based on a knowledge of true causes.
  3. Schoenberg's letter (pp. 102-103).
    1. T or F Cardinal Schoenberg warned Copernicus that he would face severe opposition from the Church if he chose to publish his astronomical views.
    2. T or F Cardinal Schoenberg advised Copernicus to hold off publication of his book for as long as possible.
  4. Copernicus' dedication (pp. 103-108).
    1. T or F Copernicus dedicated the De revolutionibus to his younger colleague, Rheticus, who helped him complete the great work.
    2. T or F Copernicus expected some readers of his book to regard it as a ridiculous novelty.
    3. T or F Copernicus expressed dissatisfaction with astronomers whose systems seemed contrary to uniform circular motion.
    4. T or F Copernicus compared Ptolemaic models of planets, each constructed in isolation from the others, with a monster comprised of parts from multiple individuals rather than a symmetrical statue of a single person.
    5. T or F Copernicus claimed that observations justified his boldness in proposing ideas (such as the motion of the Earth) that no one before him had ever dared to endorse before.
    6. T or F Copernicus admitted that his system could not determine the order and sizes of all the planets and spheres.
    7. T or F Copernicus promised to write a book that would explain all of his ideas in a way that ordinary theologians could understand, without advanced mathematics.
  5. Book I, Introduction (pp. 109-111); compare with Ptolemy's Almagest.
    1. T or F Copernicus believed that mathematical astronomy includes beautiful theories.
    2. T or F Copernicus argued that astronomy inculcates admiration of divine beauty.
    3. T or F Copernicus argued that astronomy has little importance for government and the state.
    4. T or F Copernicus suggested that Ptolemy falsified some of his observations and stole others from earlier astronomers without giving them any credit.
  6. Book I, ch. 1: The Universe is Spherical (p. 111); compare with Ptolemy's Almagest.
    1. T or F Copernicus argued that the universe is spherical based upon direct observation.
  7. Book I, ch. 2: The Earth too is Spherical (pp. 111-112); compare with Ptolemy's Almagest.
    1. T or F Copernicus argued that the Earth is spherical because gravity presses from every direction.
    2. T or F Copernicus argued that the Earth is spherical because of the changing circumpolar stars that appear when traveling north or south.
  8. Book I, chs. 6, 7 and 8 (pp. 118-127); compare with Ptolemy's Almagest.
    1. T or F Copernicus argued that the Earth lies at the center of the universe because the plane of the horizon and other great circles bisect the heavens into equal hemispheres.
    2. T or F Copernicus argued that the universe is relatively small compared to the size of the Earth.
    3. T or F Copernicus argued that observations prove that the universe is infinite in size.
    4. T or F Copernicus explained that, according to Ptolemy, if the Earth were in motion then clouds and anything else in the air would appear to move westward.
    5. T or F Copernicus illustrated the principle of relative motion by a quotation from the poet Vergil.
    6. T or F Copernicus suggested that mobility is better suited to the Earth than to the outermost boundary of the universe, because mobility is less noble and less divine than immobility.
  9. Book I, ch. 10: The Order of the Heavens (pp. 127-133).
    1. T or F Copernicus pointed out that differences in opinion had long existed on whether the Moon was closer to the Earth than other planets.
    2. T or F Copernicus pointed out that differences in opinion had long existed on whether Venus was closer to the Earth than Mercury or the Sun.
    3. T or F The Roman writer Martianus Capella argued that Venus and Mercury revolve around the Earth.
    4. T or F Copernicus argued that the Moon revolves around the Sun rather than around the Earth.
    5. T or F Copernicus proposed that the sizes of the spheres vary according to their periods, or lengths of time, to complete a revolution.
    6. T or F Copernicus compared the universe to a temple with the Sun as a lamp in the middle.
    7. T or F Copernicus stated that the largest gap between the spheres occurs between the Earth and Mars.


TOPIC QUIZ: The statements are either True or False. When you take the quiz at Janux, you will see 12 of these statements, chosen at random, 2 points each.

 

"A man flattened by an opponent can get up again. A man flattened by conformity stays down for good." - Thomas Watson, Jr.

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HSCI 3013. History of Science to 17th centuryCreative Commons license
Kerry Magruder, Instructor, 2004
-14
Brent Purkaple, TA

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Many thanks to the pedagogical model developed in Mythology and Folklore and other online courses by Laura Gibbs, which have been an inspiration for this course.

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