Shop Windows to the Universe

Check out the fun Earth science related bumper stickers in our online store! Express yourself!
Galileo's "The Phases of the Moon". You can see some of the Moon's craters drawn in the pictures.
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy of Biblioteca Nazionale - Florence, Italy

Astronomy throughout History

The study of all sorts of celestial objects, such as planets, stars, galaxies, intergalactic and interstellar space, falls under the field of astronomy. Thousands of years ago, the earliest civilizations observed the heavens.

Because astronomers of the past set the foundation for today's astronomy, it is an interesting journey to take a look through the history of astronomy. How did they figure out how big around the Earth is? Who was the first astronomer to recognize galaxies outside our own? How did they know the Earth wasn't the center of the solar system? What must've it been like to look through Galileo's first telescope to see the craters on the Moon? Were people stunned when Halley correctly predicted the return of a comet?

Archeoastronomy has been called the 'anthropology of astronomy' to distinguish it from the history of astronomy. It sets to find out just how astronomy fit into a certain culture's life.

Were women ever allowed or encouraged to be astronomers in ancient times? Did the builders of Stonehenge incorporate into its structure an eclipse prediction system? How did the Sun play into thoughts on death and the afterlife for civilizations of long ago? How did the Mayan calculate the length of a year with such accuracy without a computer or a calculator?

This section will take you on a journey through time, across the continents and into the lives of people from all times and places. It will touch on the history of astronomy, archeoastronomy and more. Please choose which way you would like to begin your journey:

Journey through Time
Journey by Region
Meet the People Involved

Last modified September 10, 2000 by Jennifer Bergman.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

The Summer 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist, available in our online store, includes articles on rivers and snow, classroom planetariums, satellites and oceanography, hands-on astronomy, and global warming.

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Cool It! Game

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Archeoastronomy

"The movements of the heavenly bodies are an admirable thing, well known and manifest to all peoples. There are no people, no matter how barbaric and primitive, that do not raise up their eyes, take note,...more

President of Peru Visits Ancient Incan Sites

Peru's new president, Alejandro Toledo, was sworn in on July 28, 2001. The next day he took part in traditional ceremonies asking for the blessing of the Incan gods. Toledo is himself one of 16 children...more

Native American Astronomy

By 30,000 B.C,. Asian hunter-gatherers had crossed the Bering Strait into North America. These people were the first to inhabit this new land and so they are known as the Native Americans of North America....more

The Stones of Carnac

The stones of Carnac, France, are probably the most famous stones markings outside of those found at Stonehenge in England. Where Stonehenge is composed of standing stones, the Carnac area has many different...more

The Cairns of Clava

Not too far from Loch Ness, where the green highlands of Scotland rise and fall there lies three giant cairns of stones. They are called the Balnuaran of Clava. The Balnuaran of Clava, giant tombs encased...more

The Stones of Fossa

The stone structures of England and France are very famous. But, one can also find stone rings, tombs, and dolmen structures in present-day Italy. One such megalithic structure is a site in Fossa, Abruzzo....more

Megaliths Revealed

Many people are interested in the mysterious megalithic structures that can be found around the world. This page will give you all the ins and outs so these structures aren't such a mystery! First, a megalithic...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF