Course Description

IN PERSON: The heavens have held a fascination for humankind ever since we started walking upright and turned our gaze skyward. Primitive records of solar cycles go back over 10,000 years. Written records of celestial observations go back 5,000 years. From these observations, philosopher-astronomers developed physical, philosophical and religious cosmologies. As tools were developed to aid observations and mathematics advanced, our understanding of the universe evolved.  In this course, we'll review the development of astronomy as part of “natural philosophy.” We'll also review how the knowledge acquired through observations informed cosmology. We’ll cover Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, the Hellenistic age, the Islamic world's contributions and the pre-modern period culminating in Newton's theory of gravity and planetary motion. In the last session, we'll discuss the 18th-century refinements of Newton's works, star catalogs developed using early optical telescopes and nonoptical observation methods. | Lecture + Q&A.

Max enrollment: 12.

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