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The Development of Modern Astronomy After Copernicus Term Paper


The key theory of Copernicus is based on the following fact: as the distance from the Earth and the centre of motion increase, so the period of the planets becomes longer (Goldstein, 2002, p. 1). This paper, however, will attempt four other main contributors, namely, Tycho Brahe (1546-1601), Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), and Johannes Kepler (1571-1630).

Brahes’ major contribution was the measurement of the position of the planets, stars, the Sun and the Moon on a daily basis as well as the records of these measurements. Brahe formed an extraordinarily perfect star catalogue of close to 1000 stars. In addition, he demonstrated that comets actually were beyond the Moon and not within the atmosphere as perceived by many. It was here that he made his overall advancement on the known methods of observation (Mahanti, 2012, p. 42).

Bruno’s contribution was basically made in the existence of an infinite universe. As a matter of fact, he argued that there existed an infinite universe that had a number of other worlds similar to the Earth. He outlined that the Sun was simply not the centre of the universe (Mahanti, 2012, p. 46).

Galileo’s main impact on astronomy was the observation and analysis of the sunspots, the telescopic confirmation of the phases of the Venus and “the discovery of the four largest satellites of Jupiter” (Mahanti, 2012, p. 49).

Keplers’ main contributions covered the laws of planetary motion. Thus, the first law stated that “planets move in eclipses with the sun at one focus.” (Mahanti, 2012, p.69). The second law suggested that “the line joining the sun to a planet sweeps out equal area in equal times” (p.69). And the third law highlighted that “the squares of the periodic times are to each other and the cubes of the mean distance” (p.69). So, the geocentric view of the universe stayed for quite some time due to the fact that it was seen as a direct attack on the Catholic Church, the bible, philosophic beliefs and on human mental serenity (Mahanti, 2012, p.24). This point clearly indicates that the scientific research is still in a revolutionary state (p.24).

Geography in its efforts to bridge the natural and human sciences acts as a link between the conservational, ecological and environmentalist view and those of the cultural, social and developmental studies (Bird, 1989, p.3). Geography is the study of mankind and its environment that helps us understand the geographical history and the roles it has played in the evolution of mankind and the environment. On the other hand, geography has its weaknesses as it does not clearly spells out the nature of the relationship between the environment and man.

The weather can be defined as a set of atmospheric conditions such as humidity, rainfall and temperature of a particular region at a particular time of measurement. Climate, on the other hand, refers to the average weather condition measured after a certain time period, usually one year. The common event between both weather and climate are the hurricanes, floods, and drought.

Global warming is the rise in the temperature of the Earth’s surface over the last 50 years, while green house effect is the increase in the concentration of green house gasses. Global warming has the following effects: if there is more heat trapped on the Earth, it will become warmer thus changing the weather. Thus, summers become hotter and so do winters.

Pressure gradient force refers to the force that occurs as a result of pressure imbalance acting across the surface. It drastically changes the speed of wind at a particular time. Coriolis effect, on the other hand, is the perceptible deflection of objects moving in a straight direction in relation to the surface of the Earth. Its effects are deflection of the winds and currents in the oceans, its effects on the missiles and planes. However, frictional force is the one opposing the motion of any particular object (Trenberth, 2011, p.128).

In the northern hemisphere, Coriolis force has the tendency of changing the direction of the wind to the right in an equivalent speed. Hence, the speed of wind determines the rate of change to the right and, as observed, the strength of this force is greater to the poles comparing to the equator. The great differences in precipitation received from place to place is as a result of the following factors:

  • the changes in salinity of the oceans, i.e. higher salinities of the oceans accompanied by low latitudes as well as the freshening of both the hemisphere at higher latitudes;
  • precipitation in conjunction with the rivers discharge into the oceans;
  • the abrupt decline in the net radiation from the Sun which leads to a brief cooling of both the land and the ocean thereby causing a shift in the precipitation (Trenberth, 2011, p.127-128).

The humid subtropical climate (Cfa) is a type of climate characterized by humid and hot summers. Its winters are mostly mild with its precipitation coming from mid-latitude cyclones. The Mediterranean climate (Csa), on the other hand, basically receives its rains in the winter seasons from the mid-latitude cyclones. The Mediterranean climate is known for its extreme weather conditions that are hot during the day and cold at night during the summer seasons and extreme chilly and wet weather during the winter seasons However, the similarity between these climate types is that both the Mediterranean and humid subtropical climate experience humid and warm summers coupled with mild winters (Csa climate, 2013).

During the formation of El Nino, the trade winds weaken along the equator as the atmospheric pressure rises in the western pacific and falls in the eastern pacific (McPhaden, 2002, p.1). Thus, the sunlight in tropics is more intense than the one at higher latitudes making the warmest temperatures of the ocean to be near the equator. Air masses over warm tropical waters extract heat and moisture from the ocean, which becomes less dense than the atmospheric air, hence, ascending to the higher altitude areas (McPhaden, 2002, p.7). This particular process has a number of effects, namely, it develops drought in the surrounding areas while it also imposes heavy rains to the islands of the central pacific (p.8).


Bird, J. 1989. The Changing Worlds of Geography. A Critical Guide to Concepts and Methods. New York, Oxford University Press.

Csa climate. (2013). In Encyclopedia Britannica. Web.

Goldstein. B. R, (2002), Copernicus and the origin of his heliocentric system. New York, Science History Publications Ltd.

Mahanti, S. (Eds). (2012). Founders of Modern Astronomy. From Hipparchus to Hawking. New Delhi, Vigyan Prasar.

McPhaden, J, M. (2002), El Nino and La Nina: Causes and Global Consequences. New York.

Trenberth, E, K. (2011), Changes in precipitation with climate change. Colorado, Climate Research.

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