Historical Astronomers in Context

Galileo Galilei (2/15/1564 – 1/08/1642)

Galileo Galilei was a very important physicist and astronomer .Based on his observations and discoveries, he supported the heliocentric model of the universe against the dominant view of geocentric model at that time. In terms of innovations, he improved the functionality of telescope and used it to successfully observe the phases of Venus, which was solid evidence for the heliocentric model. Galileo also developed laws of motion, which included three fundamental principles describing the behavior of objects in motion: the law of inertia, the law of acceleration, and the law of action and reaction. The laws of motion laid the foundation for the later Issac Newton’s laws of motion. Furthermore, Galileo also wrote a famous work “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems,” in which he described why the heliocentric model was correct. (Q#2)

The time Galileo lived in was of significant changes and developments in many areas of the world. Several major historical events include:

  • The Renaissance: it was a cultural and intellectual movement, with renewed interest in classical art, literature, and philosophy. The movement began in the 14th century and went throughout Europe to 17th century, which was viewed by many as a transition for western world to go from the Middle Ages to modernization.
  • The Scientific Revolution: it was an era of enormous changes and discoveries in science in Europe. The movement took place from the 16th to 18th century. The movement covered the field of astronomy, but it also covered other field of science, such as physics, mathematic, and biology. Galileo himself was involved as a contributor of the movement. He and many other scientists challenged the authority of the Church on people’s traditional ways to think about science. An achievement of this movement was that people started to use scientific method and approaches to make new discoveries and understand the natural world.
  • Foundation of Jamestown in 1607: it was the first English settlement in America, laying the foundation for the future United States. (Q#3a)

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) lived at a time close to Galileo’s lifetime. Shakespeare was important because he was one of the greatest writers and playwrights in western history. He wrote many famous works, including “Hamlet” and “Romeo and Juliet.” Shakespeare was a crucial figure in Renaissance. His works promote individualism and humanity. (Q#3b)

Based on the answers I found for previous questions, I think it was pretty interesting to find that some famous figures and major historical events existed in the same era. Before I actually looked for the lifetime of those figures, and the exact time span of the historical events, they were merely fractured and independent impressions in my mind. However, it was super interesting for me to discover that many of the figures and their contributions were linked together, and they all belong to an era of great creativity, inspirations, impacts, and progress on human society in western world. Furthermore, I also got to know that people living in the Middle Ages did not share much common knowledge about the world with today’s people, because before the scientific revolution and Renaissance, the obtainment of knowledge was harshly suppressed and controlled by religious forces. It was the contribution from crucial figures like Galileo and Shakespeare that led society into a new stage of enlightenment. (Q#4)

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