Timeline of Solar System astronomy

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Timeline of Solar System astronomy


  • 2nd millennium BC – earliest possible date for the composition of the Babylonian Venus tablet of Ammisaduqa, a 7th-century BC copy of a list of observations of the motions of the planet Venus, and the oldest planetary table currently known.
  • 2nd millennium BC – Babylonian astronomers identify the inner planets Mercury and Venus and the outer planets Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, which would remain the only known planets until the invention of the telescope in early modern times.[1]
  • 2nd millennium BC – Chinese astronomers record a solar eclipse
  • 2nd millennium BC – Chinese determine that Jupiter needs 12 years to complete one revolution of its orbit.
  • 11th century BC – The idea of a heliocentric solar system, with the Sun at the center, is hinted at in the Vedic literature of ancient India, which often refer to the Sun as the "centre of spheres".[citation needed]
  • c. 1400 BC – Chinese record the regularity of solar and lunar eclipses and the earliest known Solar prominence
  • c. 1100 BC – Chinese first determine the spring equinox.
  • 776 BC – Chinese make the earliest reliable record of a solar eclipse.
  • 7th century BC – Egyptian astronomers alleged to have predicted a solar eclipse
  • 613 BC, July – A Comet, possibly Comet Halley, is recorded in Spring and Autumn Annals by the Chinese
  • 586 BC – Thales of Miletus alleged to have predicted a solar eclipse
  • c. 450 BC: Anaxagoras shows that the Moon shines by reflected sunlight.
  • 350 BC – Aristotle argues for a spherical Earth using lunar eclipses and other observations
  • 280 BC – Aristarchus of Samos offers the first definite discussion of the possibility of a heliocentric cosmos, and uses the size of the Earth's shadow on the Moon to estimate that the Moon's radius is one-third that of the Earth, and to estimate sizes and distances for the Moon and Sun
  • 200 BC – Eratosthenes uses shadows to determine that the radius of the Earth is roughly 6,400 km
  • 150 BC – Hipparchus uses parallax to determine that the distance to the Moon is roughly 380,000 km
  • 134 BC – Hipparchus discovers the precession of the equinoxes
  • 28 BC – Chinese history book Book of Han makes earliest known dated record of sunspot.
  • c. 150 CE – Claudius Ptolemy completes his Almagest that codifies the astronomical knowledge of his time and cements the geocentric model in the West

Middle Ages[edit]


18th century[edit]

  • 1705 – Edmond Halley publicly predicts the periodicity of Halley's Comet and computes its expected path of return in 1757
  • 1715 – Edmond Halley calculates the shadow path of a solar eclipse
  • 1716 – Edmond Halley suggests a high-precision measurement of the Sun-Earth distance by timing the transit of Venus
  • 1718 – Edmond Halley discovers proper motion, dispelling the concept of the "fixed stars".
  • 1729 – James Bradley determines the cause of the aberration of starlight, providing the first direct evidence of the Earth's motion
  • 1755 – Immanuel Kant first formulates the nebular hypothesis of Solar System formation.
  • 1758 – Johann Palitzsch observes the return of Halley's comet. The interference of Jupiter's orbit had slowed the return by 618 days. Parisian astronomer La Caille suggests it should be named Halley's comet.
  • 1766 – Johann Titius finds the Titius-Bode rule for planetary distances
  • 1772 – Johann Bode publicizes the Titius-Bode rule for planetary distances
  • 1781 – William Herschel discovers Uranus during a telescopic survey of the northern sky
  • 1787 – Herschel discovers Uranus's moons Titania and Oberon
  • 1789 – Herschel discovers Saturn's moons Enceladus and Mimas
  • 1796 – Pierre Laplace re-states the nebular hypothesis for the formation of the Solar System from a spinning nebula of gas and dust

19th century[edit]


  • 1906 – Max Wolf discovers the Trojan asteroid Achilles
  • 1915 – Robert Innes discovers Proxima Centauri, the closest star to Earth after the Sun
  • 1919 – Arthur Stanley Eddington uses a solar eclipse to successfully test Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity
  • 1930 – Clyde Tombaugh discovers Pluto
  • 1930 – Seth Nicholson measures the surface temperature of the Moon
  • 1944 – Gerard Kuiper discovers that the satellite Titan has a substantial atmosphere
  • 1946 – American launch of a camera-equipped V-2 rocket provides the first image of the Earth from space
  • 1949 – Gerard Kuiper discovers Uranus's moon Miranda and Neptune's moon Nereid
  • 1950 – Jan Oort suggests the presence of a cometary Oort cloud
  • 1951 – Kuiper argues for an annular reservoir of comets between 40-100 astronomical units from the Sun, the Kuiper belt
  • 1959 – Luna 3 sends the first images of the far side of the Moon
  • 1962 – The Mariner 2 Venus flyby performs the first closeup observations of another planet
  • 1964 – The Mariner 4 spacecraft provides the first detailed images of the surface of Mars
  • 1966 – The Luna 9 Moon lander provides the first images from the surface of another celestial body
  • 1967 – Venera 4 provides the first information on Venus's atmosphere
  • 1968 – The Apollo 8 manned lunar mission provides the first image ever taken of the sphere of the Earth.
  • 1970 – The Venera 7 Venus lander sends back the first information ever successfully obtained from the surface of another planet
  • 1971 – The Mariner 9 Mars spacecraft becomes the first to successfully orbit another planet. It provides the first detailed maps of the Martian surface, discovering much of the planet's topography, including the volcano Olympus Mons and the canyon system Valles Marineris, which is named in its honor.
  • 1971 – Mars 3 lands on Mars, and transmits the first partial image from the surface of another planet.
  • 1973 – Skylab astronauts discover the Sun's coronal holes.
  • 1973 – Pioneer 10 flies by Jupiter, providing the first closeup images of the planet and revealing its intense radiation belts.
  • 1974 – Mariner 10 provides the first closeup images of the surface of Mercury.
  • 1975 – Venera 9 becomes the first probe to successfully transmit images from the surface of Venus.



See also[edit]


  1. ^ A. Sachs (May 2, 1974), "Babylonian Observational Astronomy", Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Royal Society of London, 276 (1257): 43-50 [45 & 48-9], Bibcode:1974RSPTA.276...43S, JSTOR 74273, doi:10.1098/rsta.1974.0008 
  2. ^ Adi Setia (2004), "Fakhr Al-Din Al-Razi on Physics and the Nature of the Physical World: A Preliminary Survey", Islam & Science, 2, archived from the original on 2012-07-10, retrieved 2010-03-02 
  3. ^ Livingston, John W. (1971), "Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah: A Fourteenth Century Defense against Astrological Divination and Alchemical Transmutation", Journal of the American Oriental Society, 91 (1): 96–103 [99], doi:10.2307/600445