History of Astronomy Scavenger Hunt


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History of Astronomy Scavenger Hunt



Directions: Use the Internet and any sites you might find using a search engine to answer as many of the following questions about the history of astronomy as possible.


  1. What is the difference between a heliocentric model of the solar system and a geocentric model?

  2. What does the word “Planet” mean in Greek?

  3. What are the characteristics of Aristotle’s picture of the heavens?

  4. Were Aristotle’s predictions of heavenly motion quantitative or qualitative?

  5. When did Aristarchus of Samos propose his heliocentric model? Why wasn’t it accepted at that time?

  6. What is retrograde motion?

  7. When and where did Ptolemy make his astronomical observations?

  8. Ptolemy adapted Aristotle’s model of the universe to a mathematical theory of the motion of the Sun, Moon, and planets in The Almagest. Describe the deferents, equants, and epicycles Ptolemy used to maintain Aristotle’s model while still explaining the incongruities, such as retrograde motion.

  9. How did the Ptolemaic model of the universe explain retrograde motion?

  10. What three incorrect ideas held back the development of modern astronomy from the time of Aristotle until the 16th century?

  11. What is parallax? How would you demonstrate parallax with your own eyes?

  12. What is the Copernican theory of the universe?

  13. How did the Copernican theory explain retrograde motion?

  14. What key factor kept the Copernican theory from being widely accepted at first?

  15. What was Tycho Brahe’s model of the solar system?

  16. What were three of Tycho Brahe’s reasons for believing his model had to be right?

  17. What did Tycho Brahe see in the sky that convinced him that the heavenly firmament was not as unchanging/perfect as previously believed?

  18. Tycho Brahe constructed an observatory in Denmark with the most accurate pretelescopic observing instruments ever designed. What was the precision of his measurements?

  19. Whose data did Johannes Kepler analyze to arrive at his three laws of planetary motion?

  20. State Kepler’s three laws of planetary motion.

  21. How did Kepler deviate from the beliefs of Aristotle and Copernicus in his first law?

  22. What is perihelion? Aphelion?

  23. What was the date the last time earth was at perihelion?

  24. What does Kepler’s second law imply about the speed of a planet around the sun?

  25. Where is the earth when it is traveling the fastest?

  26. How is an astronomical unit (A.U.) defined?

  27. What year did Galileo make his first telescope?

  28. Identify two conclusions Galileo drew from his observation of sun spots (dark spots) on the sun.

  29. What is the significance of Galileo’s observations of the phases of Venus?

  30. Why was Galileo sent to exile in Siena?

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