# ,.~ Readlng ~ What,~,~~ is a geocentric system? Chapter3 J 73

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1 Earth at the Center When the ancient Greeks watched the stars move across the sky, they noticed that the patterns of the stars didn t change. Although the stars seemed to move, they stayed in the same position relative to one another. These patterns of stars, called constellations, kept the same shapes from night to night and from year to year. Greek Observations As the Greeks observed the sky, they noticed something surprising. Several points of light seemed to wander slowly among the stars. The Greeks called these objects planets, from the Greek word meaning "wanderers." The Greeks made careful observations of the motions of the planets that they could see. You know these planets by the names the ancient Romans later gave them: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Most early Greek astronomers believed the universe to be perfect, with Earth at the center. The Greeks thought that Earth is inside a rotating dome they called the celestial sphere. Since gee is the Greek word for "Earth; an Earth-centered model is known as a geocentric (jee oh SEN trik) system. In a geocentric system, Earth is at the center of the revolving planets and stars, Ptolemy s Model About A.D. 140, the Greek astronomer Ptolemy (TAHL uh mee) further developed the geocentric model. Like the earlier Greeks, Ptolemy thought that Earth is at the center of a system of planets and stars. In Ptolemy s model, however, the planets move on small circles that move on bigger circles. Even though Ptolemy s geocentric model was incorrect, it explained the motions observed in the sky fairly accurately. As a result, the geocentric model of the universe was widely accepted for nearly 1,500 years after Ptolemy.,.~ Readlng ~ What,~,~~ is a geocentric system? FIGURE Geocentric System In a geocentric system, the planets and stars are thought to revolve around a stationary Earth. In the ~ 1500s, an astronomy book published the illustration of Ptolemy s geocentric system shown below. Interpreting Diagrams Where is Earth located in each illustration? Chapter3 J 73

2 Sun at the Center Not everybody believed in the geocentric system. An andent Greek scientist developed another explanation for the motion of the planets. This sun-centered model is called a heliocentric (bee lee oh SEN trik) system.. Helios is Greek for "sun." In a hdiocentric system, Earth and the other planets revolve around the sun. This model was not well received in ancient thnes, however, because people could not accept that Earth is not at the center of the universe. FIGURE 3 Heliocentric System In a heliocentric system, Earth and the other planets revolve around the sun. The illustration by Andreas Cellarius (top) was made in the 1660s, Interpreting Diagrams In a heliocentric model, what revolves around Earth? The Copernican Revolution In 1543, the Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus further developed the heliocentric model. Copernicus was able to work out the arrangement of the known planets and how they move around the sun. Copernicus s theory would eventually revolutionize the science of astronomy. But at first, many people were unwilling to accept his theory. They needed more evidence to be convinced. In the 1500s and early 1600s, most people still believed in the geocentric model. However, evidence collected by the Italian scientist Galileo Galilei gradually convinced others that the heliocentric model was correct. Galileo s Evidence Galileo used the newly invented telescope to make discoveries that supported the heliocentric model. For example, in 1610, Galileo used a telescope to discover four moons revolving around ~upiter. The motion of these moons proved that not everything in the sky revolves around Earth. Nicolaus Copernicus A reconstruction of Galileo s telescope Galileo Galilei FIGURE 4 Major Figures in the History of Astronomy 74~J

3 Galileo s observations of Venus also supported the hdiocentric system. Galileo knew that Venus is always seen near the sun. He discovered that Venus goes through a series of phases similar to those of Earth s moon. But Venus would not have a full set of phases if it circled around Earth. Therefore, Galileo reasoned, the geocentric model must be incorrect. Tycho Brahe s Observations Copernicus correctly placed the sun at the center of the planets. But he incorrectly assumed that the planets travel in orbits that are perfect drdes. Copernicus had based his ideas on observations made by the ancient Greeks. In the late 1500s, the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe (TEE koh I~RAI4 uh) and his assistants made much more accurate observations. For more than 20 years, they carefully observed and recorded the positions of the planets. Surprisingly, these observations were made without using a tdescope. Telescopes had not yet been invented! Kepler s Calculations Tycho Brahe died in His assistant, Johannes Kepler, went to work analyzing the observations. Kepler began by trying to figure out the shape of Mars s orbit. At first, he assumed that the orbit was circular. But his calculations did not fit the observations. Kepler eventually found that Mars s orbit was a slightly flattened circle, or ellipse. An ellipse is an oval shape, which may be elongated or nearly circular. After years of detailed calculations, Kepler reached a remarkable condusion about the motion of the planets. Kepler found that the orbit of each planet is an ellipse. Kepler had used the evidence gathered by Tycho Brahe to disprove the long-held belief that the planets move in perfect circles. Reading ~ What is an ellipse? A Loopy Ellipse You can draw an ellipse, 1. Ca refully stick two pushpins about 10 cm apart through a sheet of white paper on top of corrugated cardboard, One pushpin represents the sun. 2. Tie the ends of a 30-cm piece of string together. Place the string around the pushpins. 3. Keeping the string tight, move a pencil around inside the string. 4. Now place the pushpins 5 cm apart. Repeat Step 3. Predicting How does changing the distance between the pushpins affect the ellipse s shape? What shape would you draw if you used only one pushpin? Is the "sun" at the center of the ellipse? Tycho Brahe Johannes Kepler Brahe s observatory on an island between Denmark and Sweden Chapter3 J 75

5 FIGURE 5 The Sun and Planets This illustration shows the average distances of the planets from the sun. The solar system also includes smaller objects, such as Pluto. These distances are drawn to scale, but the sizes of the planets are not drawn to the same scale. Observing Which planet is closest to the sun? Modern Discoveries Today, people talk about the "solar system" rather than the "Earth system." This shows that people accept the idea that Earth and the other planets revolve around the sun. Since Galileo s time, our knowledge of the solar system has increased dramatically. Galileo knew the same planets that the ancient Greeks had known--mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Since Galileo s time, astronomers have discovered two more planets--uranus and Neptune, as well as Pluto, which is no longer considered to be a planet. Astronomers have also identified many other objects in the solar system, such as comets and asteroids. Today we know that the solar system consists of the sun, the planets and their moons, and several kinds of smaller objects that revolve Planet Speed Versus Distance Johannes Kepler discovered a relationship between the speed of a planet and its distance from the sun. Use the graph to help discover what Kepler learned, 1. Reading Graphs According to the graph, what is Earth s average speed? 2. Interpreting Data Which is closer to the sun, Mercury or Mars? Which moves faster? 3. Drawing Conclusions What is the general relationship between a planet s speed and its average distance from the sun? 4. Predicting The planet Uranus is about 2,900 million km from the sun. Predict whether its speed is greater or less than Jupiter s speed. Explain your answer Average Distance From Sun (millions of kilometers) 76~J

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