December 23, 2019 1

History of Science – 16th-Century Astronomy – 11.1 Astronomy

History of Science – 16th-Century Astronomy – 11.1 Astronomy

>>Get your backpack ready; let’s brainstorm
another trip! This week in our whirlwind tour of the history of science let’s travel to
the 16th Century—the 1500s. I hope you’ll make some meaningful and unexpected discoveries
this week as we explore the strange new world of the century of the Reformation, the era
of Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, and Kepler. Though we have a limited time to visit, we’ll not
be like tourists in Uranienborg or Prague who seek fast food at McDonald’s. Our aim
will be to get to know the 16th century astronomers in terms of their own place and time, not
just in terms of modern science. As always when we’re planning a trip, we want to better
understand what people in this place and time were up to. What are some similarities between
16th century culture and our culture today? How might these similarities help us to understand
16th century science? What are some differences between 16th century culture and our culture
today, and how might these differences pose an obstacle to our understanding of 16th century
science? What do you think is the chief barrier or prejudice that obstructs modern appreciation
of science in the Reformation era? What do you know about astronomy in the 16th century?
Have you heard of Copernicus, Tycho, or Kepler? What would you most like to discover about
them this coming week? Please share your thoughts on these things, and feel free to revisit
any of the questions from last week. What are your starting assumptions?

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