Cosmic Order, the Movement of the Earth, and the Scientific Revolution
Chapter XI. Astronomy before Copernicus
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ASTRONOMY BEFORE COPERNICUS
In order to answer to all these questions, we must reverse the familiar convention. Instead of looking at Copernicus through Galileo’s occhiale and the prism of his own Copernicanism, interests and struggles, we shall examine him through the eyes of his contemporaries, against the backdrop of late medieval and Renaissance astronomy and philosophy. An excellent starting point is the work of two outstanding astronomers of the fifteenth century, Georg Peurbach, and his student and colleague, Johannes Müller, known as Regiomontanus. A cross-section of their works reveals what astronomy was like when Copernicus was a student, as well as four major elements that help illuminate his project of the restoration of astronomy:
(1) high quality of mathematical astronomy, coupled with some (sometimes rather severe) criticism of Ptolemy and awareness of the achievements of the Muslim astronomers;
(2) ultimate understanding of the motions of the celestial objects as a result of the motions of real three-dimensional orbs;
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