Science and Technology Studies

STS 232 History of Astronomy

In this introductory course we shall review the development of ideas relating to our current understanding of the Universe. The course will begin with a review of the relevance of astronomical observations to ancient civilizations. The ancient Greek ideas relating to astronomy and the cosmos will be discussed in some detail, and then the course will jump forward in time to the late medieval period in order to follow the development of new thinking beginning with the works of Copernicus. Finally, the course will follow the more contempoorary development of astronomical distance measures, starting from the early 19th century onwards, which took astronomy from the purely local stellar realm to the vast cosmos, billions of light years across, that we now envisage.