1st revolution (1610-1650) in astronomy

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The Golden Age of Discovery

in Astronomy

1st revolution (1610-1650) in astronomy: During this short interval, our picture of the universe changed dramatically.

  • An understanding that the planets were worlds of their own, and might be visited.

  • The universe contained countless stars and was much vaster and complex than previously imagined.

2nd revolution (1910-1930) in astronomy: During the early years of the 20th century, our view of the Universe changed again.

  • The theory of relativity was developed, explaining motion and gravity in a profound new way.

  • The Sun was located well away from the center of the Milky Way Galaxy; implying the solar system was not a preferred location.

  • Discovery of the universal expansion, implying that the Universe had an origin in time.

In the last 30 years of the 20th century we have experienced a “golden” age of discovery in astronomy. In many ways this period can be considered the 3rd revolution in our view of the Universe.

Why ?

  • Two interrelated reasons, rooted in technological advances prior to and during this era.

  1. Access to Space
  • Allows on-site exploration of the worlds within the solar system.

  • Permits astronomical observations to be conducted free of the effects of Earth’s atmosphere

The first earth-orbiting satellite was launched in 1957, the first successful planetary probe in 1962.

  1. The ability to explore the entire electromagnetic spectrum

    • Technological advances in our ability to collect and detect radiation from high-energy gamma rays to low-energy radio waves has opened up an entire new universe to our investigation.

The first celestial radio waves were detected in 1932; radio astronomy became a separate experimental discipline in the 1950s.
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