Astronomy has been a source for myriad ideas influencing every subject. The stars have existed since the dawn of man. People have looked to the universe to determine physical location, gain spiritual direction and to track time. Many early scientists used astronomy to make careers for themselves and print their names in all the history books of time.
Since the beginning of time, the stars and all of the heavens have been used not only as a tool to aid in basic living but also to reveal new and undiscovered things about the time and world people lived in. The times leading up to the 17th Century were filled with many discoveries not only in astronomy but also in mathematics and science. These discoveries lead to many uses from the learned knowledge of these newfound discoveries. The view of the universe at the time of the 17th Century was referred to as the Ptolemaic system. They also believed that all things around the earth were perfect and unchanging. Another popular theory at the time was the Copernican system. This is where the sun is the center, rather than the sun.
One of the main scientists during the 17th Century was Galileo. He believed in the Copernican system. When Galileo pointed his telescope to the sky, he made many discoveries that confirmed the Copernican system. One thing he found was that the moon was not a perfect sphere as thought of in the Ptolemaic system; it had craters and mountains not visible to the human eye. Another discovery Galileo made was that Jupiter had moons going around it. This conflicted with the Ptolemaic system. It proved that the earth was not the only planet with moons going around it. Galileo also found that Venus had phases just like the Moon; this meant that it had to be orbiting the sun. He also discovered that the sun had spots on it that could be used to see how the earth orbits around it. These discoveries all contradicted the Ptolemaic system and confirmed the Copernican system. In 1610, Galileo started to publish his findings on the Copernican system|
In early explorations of the Earth, humans had only their five senses to lead them. Traveling through the forest or venturing out at sea would have been impossible if people had not realized that the stars stay relatively constant in position above them. Following the stars and creating constellations allowed mankind to develop its first system for tracking location and direction.
They developed star maps. By creating constellations and memorizing the position of stars in the sky, an adventurer could determine what direction they were facing and get a general idea about how far they had to go.
From all this observation spawned mathematics because people desired to quantify what they saw in the sky. Astronomy led to the creation of statistics, hydrostatics, optics, astronomy, engineering, geometry, and arithmetic. Astronomers like Pheidias determined the diameters of the sun and the moon using these new methods.
Using math they created devices to create inventions like telescopes. The person most famous for his use with the telescope is arguably Galileo. Galileo was the first to say that the Earth was not the center of the universe.
The universe has always been one of the primary inspirations for religion. and superstition. People assign bodies in the universe god like attributes and mystic abilities. Greeks believed the sky was a blanket with holes punched into it and held up by the God Atlas. Astrology the pseudoscience was also developed on the assumption that the stars followed a path of destiny and that humans themselves were linked into this path. By watching the positions of the stars, astrologers acted much like fortunetellers. Thousands of years ago, people took astrology so seriously that astrologers were actually priests. This contrasts the modern belief that astrologers are more philosophers used for guidance.
Man tracked time by watching the sun move through the sky. They would track years, months and days by the setting of the sun and the rising of the moon. It was also found that the sun was in certain positions in the sky at certain times of the day. By observing this they could break the day into pieces.
Astronomy has been the basis for a great deal of progress for the human race. It has led to inventions, theories, and philosophies that have influenced every part of life. If people had never looked up, they would have never been able to look forward.