Benjamin Banneker

Benjamin Banneker, a free black man in 18th-century America, taught himself astronomy. (Photo by MPI News and Sport Collection Getty Images) Benjamin Banneker, a free black man in 18th-century America, taught himself astronomy. (Photo by MPI News and Sport Collection Getty Images) The First African-American Astronomer Eighteenth-century astronomer, clockmaker, farmer, and antislavery advocate, Benjamin Banneker is known as the first African-American astronomer. Banneker did not begin his career...

Copernicanism Deserves Support

For the time being, Galileo was a celebrity. Word of his observations and discoveries spread throughout Rome. In 1611, he was invited to attend a grand banquet at the Collegio Romano, where Jesuit mathematicians certified his discoveries. While there, he gained a membership to the Accademia dei Lincei (Lincei National Academy) by Federigo Cesi, an Italian natural scientist who suggested the word telescope for Galileo's invention. Cesi remained a supporter of Galileo for the rest of his life. By...

The Space Race

In 1947, von Braun briefly returned to Germany to marry Maria Louise von Quinstorp, his cousin. Then, in 1950, he and his new family moved to Huntsville, Alabama, along with his team of scientists. They went to work there for the Army Ballistic Missile Agency at Redstone Arsenal. At Redstone, Von Braun worked on the Redstone, Jupiter, and Jupiter-C rockets. In 1952, von Braun published his first book, titled The Mars Project, initially through a German publisher and then in 1953 through an...

Copernicuss Legacy

In 1539, a young mathematician arrived at Frauenburg unannounced. His name was Georg Joachim, but he is known simply as Rheticus, which means the man from Rhaetia, the European city in which he was born. His purpose was to discover from Copernicus more information about this new astronomical system he had heard about. Rheticus, it turned out, was a professor of mathematics from the University of Wittenberg, a purely Protestant community. Since Rheticus was a Protestant, Copernicus had every...

Brahes Legacy

During his years at Uraniborg, Brahe accomplished a great amount of work. He established entirely new methods for celestial observation and compiled a star catalog. He designed and constructed a wide range of astronomical instruments with which to record his measurements, some that were accurate to within four minutes of an arc (1 15 of a degree), and he was the first to compensate for atmospheric refraction. His logs and publications (many printed on his own press) would become the...

Sagans Legacy

Throughout his career, there was very little that concerned space and astronomy in which Carl Sagan was not involved. He delved into areas of planetary exploration, life in the cosmos, science education, and public policy and government regulation of science and the environment. Sagan won the Pulitzer Prize for literature in 1978 for The Dragons of Eden Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence 1977 . He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and authored, coauthored,...

Copernicus Recognizes a Need for Change

Ptolemy Equant

In the domain of the educated, Ptolemy's system, while largely unquestioned, had nevertheless always been regarded with a bit of quiet uncertainty. The universe, being that of the divine God, was considered to be perfect. A perfect God could create nothing less than a perfect universe. Thus, if the universe was perfect, why, then, did Ptolemy's system place the Earth off center This was not perfection. It was cause for growing scandal among the scholars concerning the Earth-centered system, and...