Chronology of astronomy – astronomia-iniciacion.com

Advances in Astronomy through time

 

Before the 11th century

  • 32000 BC In the Stone Age man makes incisions in bones to represent the lunar phases, which is possibly the oldest astronomical record.
  • 4000 BC The city of Ur is founded by the Sumerians, who give their name to the first constellations.
  • 3000 BC The Egyptians build the pyramids of Giza using astronomical knowledge. In England the first phase of Stonehenge is erected.
  • 2000 BC circles are added to Stonehenge. The Babylonian civilization is born.
  • 1300 BC The Chinese invent what was probably the first calendar in the world.
  • 600 BC Genuine science is born in Greece. The first scientist, Thales of Miletus, suggests that the Earth is a disk and floats on water.
  • 520 BC Anaximander of Miletus states that the earth’s surface is curved and that the Earth is a cylinder.
  • 500 BC The first to suggest that the Earth is a sphere was Pythagoras. According to him, the heavens are composed of crystalline spheres with the Earth in the center.
  • 350 BC Aristotle states that the Earth is the center of the universe. This theory will be maintained for more than 1800 years. It also describes the phases of the Moon and the mechanism of eclipses.
  • 300 BC Aristarchus of Samos is the first to propose the idea, soon forgotten, that the Sun is the center of the universe (heliocentric theory) .
  • 240 BC First sighting of the comet that we now call Halley in China.
  • 235 BC Eratosthenes of Cyrene makes the first accurate measurement of the diameter of the Earth.
  • 165 BC First observations of sunspots in China.
  • 150 BC Hipparchus of Nicea calculates the duration of the year with an accuracy of minutes, makes the first accurate measurements of the distance between the Moon and the Sun, discovers the precession of the Earth, makes the first catalog of stars and invents the scale of magnitude of the brightness of the stars.
  • 150 AD Claudio Ptolemy develops Aristotle’s idea of ​​a universe with the Earth as the center and is the first to propose the concept of epicycles to explain how the planets move.

 

Eleventh century

  • 1054 Chinese astronomers discover a supernova in Taurus, the explosion that created the Crab Nebula.
  • 1066 Comet Halley reappears in the sky.

 

13th century

  • 1250 Albertus Magnus translates texts of Aristotle, adding his own comments and experiments, which provides the basis for later, with his disciple Thomas Aquinas, incorporate Aristotelian thoughts to Catholic theology.
  • 1258 Hulagu Khan establishes the Observatory of Maraghe, in Azerbaijan, which was active for more than fifty years. It came to contain a library with more than 40,000 volumes.
  • 1263-1272 Alfonso X El Sabio orders Yhuda b. Mose and Rabiçag, both Jews who lived in Toledo, the preparation of the Alfonsí Tables. They reached a rapid diffusion in all Europe, first in manuscript copies and later in printed editions.

 

XIV century

  • 1303 Giotto paints the frescoes in the Chapel of the Arena, Padua. Two years before, he had seen Halley’s comet and was inspired by it to paint the Adoration of the Magi, the first pictorial representation of this celestial body.

 

XV century

  • 1450 Nicolás de Cusa affirms that the Earth is not the center of the universe and that in the universe there is no stillness, but everything is in movement, including the Sun. It also speculates about the existence of other worlds.
  • 1467 Johannes Muller Regiomontano calculates his breasts table “De triangulis Onmimodis”, published posthumously in 1533.
  • 1472 Johannes Muller Regiomontano determines the position of a comet, which would later be called Halley.
  • 1483 First edition printed in Venice of the Tablas Alfonsíes, by Alfonso X El Sabio.

 

Century XVI

  • 1519 The Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan was the first European to observe the “Magellanic Clouds”, two satellite galaxies of the Milky Way, while traveling around the Earth.
  • 1531 Petrus Apianus, observed the passage of Comet Halley and suggests that the cometary tails point in the opposite direction to the Sun.
  • 1532 Nicolaus Copernicus finishes his masterpiece “De Revolutionibus orbium coelestium” (On the movements of the celestial spheres). He wrote it over 25 years of work and it was published posthumously.
  • 1543 Nicolás Copernicus proposes, on his deathbed, a Solar System centered on the Sun. His idea soon finds acceptance, although the Church considers it heretical.
  • 1576 Tycho Brahe calculates exactly the movement of the planets.

 

XVII century

  • 1608 The telescope is invented by Hans Lippershey.
  • 1609 Johannes Kepler uses Tycho’s observations to discover that the orbit of Mars is elliptical.
  • 1610 Galileo Galilei uses a telescope for the first time in astronomy. Discover, among other things, satellites around Jupiter, craters on the Moon and stars in the Milky Way.
  • 1619 Kepler discovers a mathematical relationship between the orbital period of the planets and their distances from the Sun, and proposes them as three laws of the movement of the planets, now axiomatic.
  • 1655 Christian Huygens discovers Titan, the most important satellite of Saturn, and suggests that Saturn’s rings are composed of small particles.
  • 1675 Giovanni Cassini discovers the division of the rings of Saturn, division that still bears his name.
  • 1687 Isaac Newton publishes the Principia.

 

Century XVIII

  • 1705 Edmund Halley predicts that the comet that bears his name today will be seen again in 1758, and so it was.
  • 1755 Immanuel Kant correctly states that planets and stars come from condensed interstellar clouds.
  • 1759 Comet Halley makes the first predicted return in advance.
  • 1771 Charles Messier publishes his first catalog of celestial objects, which he completed in 1781.
  • 1781 William Herschel discovers Uranus. He was the first to use the denomination “planetary nebula”, discovered several satellites of Saturn and published a catalog that served as the basis of the New General Catalog (NGC).

 

XIX century

  • 1801 Giussepe Piazzi , from the obsertario of Palermo, discovered the first asteroid: 1 Ceres. It was the first day of the 19th century, on January 1, 1801.
  • 1814 Joseph von Fraunhofer discovers dark lines in the spectrum of the Sun.
  • 1838 The star distance of a star, 61 Cygni, is measured for the first time.
  • 1842 Christian Doppler states the Doppler effect, widely used today to establish distances and speeds in astronomy.
  • 1845 Lord Rosse discovers the first observed spiral galaxy, the Whirlpool Galaxy, which was then called spiral nebula.
  • 1846 Johann Galle and Heinrich d’Arrest find Neptune using the predictions of Urban Leverrier and (independently) John C. Adams.
  • 1849 The speed of light is measured with a deviation of 5% of the current value.
  • 1859 James Maxwell mathematically demonstrates that Saturn’s rings are microparticles, as Huygens suggested 204 years earlier.
  • Decade of 1860 The spectroscope, used for the first time, revolutionizes astronomy and reveals the composition, until then only suspected, of celestial objects.
  • 1873 The craters of the Moon are attributed to meteorite impacts.
  • 1877 Two satellites are discovered on Mars.
  • Decade of 1880 Photography becomes an important tool in astronomy.
  • 1882 Lewis Boss directs an expedition to Chile to observe the transit of Venus.
  • 1884 The meridian of Greenwich is established as principal.
  • 1887 The Michelson-Morley experiment demonstrates that the “ether” (the medium in which light was supposed to propagate) is fictitious.
  • 1888 Johan Dreyer publishes the New General Catalog of nebulae and star clusters (NGC) in which 7840 celestial objects are included.
  • 1895 The first addition to the NGC, called Index Catalog (IC), adds another 1529 objects.

 

Twentieth century

  • 1901 Annie Jump Cannon develops the system of classification of stars of Harvard that was adopted like standard.
  • 1902 The Spanish astronomer, José Comas Solá, observing from the Fabra Observatory, of which he was director, demonstrates the existence of an atmosphere on Titan.
  • 1904 Jacobus Cornelius Kapteyn, Dutch astronomer, announces that the movements of the stars are not random. Later this announcement was understood as the first evidence of the rotation of the Milky Way.
  • 1904 Foundation of Mount Wilson Observatory, California.
  • 1904 Charles Dillon Perrine discovers Himaliá, satellite of Jupiter, that in that moment was designated like Jupiter VI.
  • 1904 Edward Walter Maunder publishes the results of his work at the Royal Observatory of Greenwich, with the peculiar shape of the diagram in the form of “butterfly wings”.
  • 1905 Albert Einstein publishes the Special Theory of Relativity.
  • 1905 George Ellery Hale discovers solar magnetism.
  • 1905 Charles Perrine discovers Elara, satellite of Jupiter, which at that time was designated as Jupiter VII.
  • 1906 Sherburne Wesley Burnham publishes the Burnham Catalog of Double Stars, which contained 13,665 references of double stars.
  • 1906 The spiral structure of the Milky Way is proposed for the first time.
  • 1908 On June 30 an aerial explosion occurs in the vicinity of Tunguska, Siberia. The Tunguska bolide raised many hypotheses about what happened, being finally attributed to a comet or an asteroid.
  • 1908 Ejnar Hertzprung divides stellar populations into giants and dwarfs.
  • 1908 Philibert Jacques Melotte discovers a moon of Jupiter, today known as Pasiphae, although at that time it was designated as Jupiter VIII.
  • 1908 Lewis Boss calculates the converging point of the Hyades cluster.
  • 1908 Following his New General Catalog of Nebulae and Star Clusters, John Louis Emil Dreyer publishes two Supplementary Index Catalogs.
  • 1908 – 1912 Henrietta Leavitt discovers that Cepheid variables with short periods are less luminous than those of long periods, thus finding a valuable method to calculate stellar distances.
  • 1909 The Evershed effect is discovered, named after John Evershed, who detected this phenomenon while working at the Kodaikanal Solar Observatory in India and observed the spectral lines of sunspot light.
  • 1911 Ejnar Hertzprung and Henry Russell individually create a graph, now known as the HR diagram, which indicates the relationship between absolute magnitudes and their temperature.
  • 1912 Vesto Slipher observes “spiral nebulae” that move away from Earth, the first detection of the expansion of the universe.
  • 1912 Cosmic rays are discovered thanks to balloon flights.
  • 1915 Einstein publishes the General Theory of Relativity, which greatly influences astronomy. The first white dwarf is known: Sirius B.
  • 1917 The 2.5m Hooker telescope is installed on Mount Wilson, California.
  • 1923 Edwin Hubble discovers that the “spiral nebulae” are actually galaxies external to ours, that all are moving away at great speed and that the Universe is expanding.
  • 1929 Hubble’s observations offer estimates of the age of the universe and the rate of its expansion.
  • 1930 Clyde Tombaugh discovers Pluto.
  • 1931 Karl Jansky detects radio waves from space for the first time.
  • 1937 Grote Reber detects radio waves from the center of the galaxy.
  • 1938 Hans Bethe explains the brightness of the Sun by means of nuclear reactions.
  • 1946 Cygnus A, the first known radio galaxy, is identified.
  • 1948 Construction of the 5m Hale telescope on Mount Palomar, California, is completed.
  • 1948 Fred Hoyle uses the term “Big Bang” for the first time.
  • 1948 Fred Whipple correctly explains the nature of comets.
  • 1948 George Gamow, Ralph Alpher and Robert Herman deduce the formation of the chemical elements in the Great Explosion.
  • 1952 Walter Baade discovers that galaxies are twice as far from what was believed until then.
  • 1957 The space race begins with the launch of Spunik 1 by the Soviet Union.
  • 1959 The first photographs of the hidden face of the Moon are made.
  • 1961 The first man in space is Yuri Gagarin, from the Soviet Union.
  • 1962 The Mariner 2 probe travels to Venus and detects the dense atmosphere and surface heat of the planet.
  • 1963 Maarten Schmidt discovers the remoteness of quasars. The first known source of X-rays discovered, apart from the Sun, is Taurus X-1.
  • 1965 Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson detect microwave background radiation, which provides a real basis for the Big Bang theory.
  • 1965 The Mariner 4 probe is the first spacecraft to fly over Mars.
  • 1967 Jocelyn Bell-Burnell discovers pulsars. They are immediately identified as neutron stars.
  • 1969 Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin make the first manned landing on the Moon (Apollo 11).
  • 1970 US Satellites they discover the first gamma ray explosion.
  • 1971 The first black hole candidate is discovered: Cygnus X-1.
  • 1973 The Pioneer 10 probe flies Jupiter for the first time.
  • 1974 The Mariner 10 probe takes the first photographs of the clouds of Venus and the craterized surface of Mercury.
  • 1975 The Venera 9 probe takes the first photographs of the surface of Venus.
  • 1976 The Viking 1 and 2 probes land on Mars in an unsuccessful attempt to detect life.
  • 1977 Discovery of the rings of Uranus from Earth.
  • 1978 James Christy discovers Charon, the satellite of Pluto.
  • 1979 Voyager 1 and 2 fly over Jupiter and discover their rings. Pioneer 11 flies over Saturn for the first time.
  • 1980 Alan Guth describes in detail that the early universe expanded with extreme rapidity in a process called cosmic inflation, thus explaining the phases immediately following the Big Bang.
  • 1980 Voyager 1 studies Saturn in detail.
  • 1980 The Very Large Network of radio telescopes starts operating in New Mexico.
  • 1981 Astronomers discover the first void in space, now it is known that there are empty regions among stellar superclusters.
  • 1982 The first millisecond pulsar is discovered.
  • 1983 IRAS, the infrared astronomical satellite, studies the infrared firmament in its entirety.
  • 1986 The Voyager 2 probe flies over Uranus for the first time.
  • 1987 In the Greater Cloud of Magallanes appears supernova 1987A, the first visible to the naked eye in almost 400 years.
  • 1989 The Voyager 2 probe flies over Neptune for the first time.
  • 1989 Margaret Geller and John Huchra explain that galaxies agglomerate in “walls” and “holes” in the universe.
  • 1989 Evidence for the existence of “dark matter” is found.
  • 1990 Launch of the Hubble Space Telescope. Weeks later it is detected that the main mirror is defective.
  • 1990 The Magellan probe begins to map Venus by radar.
  • 1991 The Galileo space probe, on its way to Jupiter, flies for the first time an asteroid, 951 Gaspra. Launch of Compton, the gamma ray observatory.
  • 1992 The COBE satellite discovers “lumps” in the cosmic background radiation.
  • 1992 The first 10m Keck telescope is opened in Mauna Kea, Hawaii.
  • 1994 Comet Shoemaker – Levy 9 collides with Jupiter.
  • 1995 The first extrasolar planet is discovered. The Galileo probe reaches Jupiter, launches a capsule in its atmosphere and begins to orbit around the planet and between its satellites.
  • 1996 It is discovered that the Milky Way has a massive black hole at its center. The possibility of fossilized Martian microbes is detected in a meteorite from Mars.
  • 1997 The Mars Pathfinder probe lands on Mars with the Sojouner SUV.
  • 1998 It is discovered that the expansion of the universe is accelerated.
  • 1999 Chandra, the orbital X-ray observatory, is launched.
  • 2000 Water filtrations and extensive sedimentary deposits on Mars are discovered.

 

XXI century

  • 2002 Exceeds the hundred known number of extrasolar planets.