Table of Contents

The textbook Putting the Earth into Motion is shared on this site under a Creative Commons license.   The 250 page book is an accessible account of how the earth-centered cosmos was eventually replaced by the sun-centered cosmos during the seventeenth century. It begins with Babylonian and Egyptian contributions to early science and ends with a brief account of Newtonian astronomy.  Please see the headings below for access to the chapters.


Chapter One– Introduction and Early Western Astronomy: Prehistory, Egyptians, and Babylonians

Introduction; Early Astronomy and Cosmology: Western and non-Western; Celestial Observing Across Cultures; The History of Science; Stone Age Cultures and Early Civilizations; Early Western Intellectuals: The Mesopotamians and Egyptians; Language, Literacy and Thought; Writing; Mathematics and Astronomy in Antiquity; Babylonian Astronomy.

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Chapter Two – Early Greek Thought

The Greek World; Politics and Religion; Greek Mathematics; Mathematics in Nature; Early Greek Natural Philosophy: The Milesians; Plato and Socrates; Plato; Plato and Aristotle; Aristotle; Empedocles; The Round Earth; The Aristotelian Universe; Aristotelian Motion; Aristotle’s Influence; Greek Astronomy – the Two-sphere Model; Planetary Motion; Eudoxus.

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Chapter Three – Hipparchus and Ptolemy: Hellenistic Planetary Astronomy in Greek, Roman, Islamic, and European Civilizations

Ptolemaic Astronomy – the Epicycle, Eccentric and Equant; Ptolemy’s Cosmology; Ptolemaic Astronomy after Ptolemy; The Greek, Roman, Islamic, and Medieval European Worlds; The Rise of Islam; Islamic Astronomy in the Middle Ages; Greek Knowledge in the Roman World; The Medieval Christian World in the Middle Ages; The Roman Catholic Church; Universities in the High Middle Ages; Early Christianity and Platonism; Athens and Jerusalem.

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Chapter Four – Renaissance Astronomy and Copernicus

European Renaissance Astronomy; Cosmology and Religion in Renaissance Europe; A Changing World: The Renaissance and Reformation; Copernicus; Copernican Astronomy; Retrograde Motion in the Copernican System; Copernican Cosmology and Copernican Mathematical Astronomy; Problems with Copernican Cosmology; The Development of the Copernican System and its Advantages; Copernicus: Developing and Sharing his Ideas; Reception of Copernican Theory; Early Opposition to Copernican Theory; Early Copernicans.

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Chapter Five – Tycho Brahe, His Astronomy, and His Response to the Copernican System

The Life of Tycho Brahe; The Lord of Uraniborg; Tycho’s Astronomy; The Comet of 1577; “Star Town”; Tycho’s Planetary Theory; Loss of Uraniborg; Tycho and the Copernican Revolution; From Tycho to Kepler.

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Chapter Six – Johannes Kepler and His New Astronomy

Kepler’s Life; Kepler and Astrology; Mysterium Cosmographicum; Religious Troubles; Kepler’s Warfare on Mars and His New Astronomy; Equal Areas in Equal Times; A Bad Year in Prague; The Rudolphine Tables; The Reception of Kepler’s Work; Geocentrism and Keplerian Planetary Theory; Kepler’s Other Works; His Final Days.

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Chapter Seven – Galileo Galilei: His Science and His Telescopic Discoveries

Galileo’s Early Life; Intellectual and Cultural Influences on Galileo’s Thinking; Getting a Job; Galilean Physics and the Nova of 1604; The Dutch Spyglass and Telescopic Discoveries; Critics and Supporters of Galileo’s Starry Messenger; A New Employer and the Starry Messenger; More Telescopic Discoveries; The Discovery of Sunspots.

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Chapter Eight – Galileo’s Copernican Campaign

The Copernican Campaign; Theoretical Implications of Galileo’s Telescopic Discoveries; Galileo’s Successes and the Rising Opposition; Catholic Theology in the Reformation and Counter-Reformation; Pope Paul V, Cardinal Bellarmine, The Index and the Holy Office; Work and Publications post-1616; Deaths and a New Era.

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Chapter Nine – Galileo’s Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems

Gaining Approval to Publish; The Days of the Dialogue; Reception of the Dialogue; The Trial of Galileo; The Aftermath.

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Chapter Ten – An Epilogue: Catholic Science, Newton, and Proof for the Copernican System

Catholic Science after 1633; The Success of the Copernican System; Kepler’s Legacy; Galileo’s Legacy; Scientists after Kepler and Galileo; Rene Descartes and a New Philosophy; Isaac Newton; At Last: Proof for the Copernican System; Stellar Parallax; Proof for the Earth’s Rotation; Loose Ends and Challenges for Newtonian Mechanics; Impact of the Copernican Revolution; The Nature of Scientific Knowledge.

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