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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: March 2008

24 - Astronomy

from Part III - Dividing the Study of Nature
In the early sixteenth-century university, astronomy was usually taught in two courses. The introductory course was based on the thirteenth-century Sphere of Johannes de Sacrobosco. More advanced instruction usually began with a study of a work called Theorica planetarum, often attributed to Gerard of Cremona. Peurbach, though often regarded as the first Renaissance astronomer, continued to develop the traditions of medieval astronomy. Astrological theory was quite distinct from astronomy, taking the planetary motions as given and considering their supposed effects. When the Mysterium cosmographicum came to Tycho Brahe's attention, he recognized Kepler's brilliance but saw that he needed to learn the discipline of working with good observations. Although the cosmological changes implicit in the works of Galileo and Descartes did not have an immediate effect on planetary theory, they helped inspire a new interest in the stars. This chapter concludes with the publication of Isaac Newton's Principia mathematica philosophiae naturalis, which completely changed the way planetary theory was to develop.
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