Have you ever wondered who invented astronomy or the famous astronomers responsible for so many mysteries of the universe? People have been studying the stars as long as human beings have been alive, so there have been many contributors to the field. The moon and constellation patterns have helped mankind keep track of the passage of time and have acted as maps, helping travelers figure out where they are and where they should go. The Chinese kept records of night sky activity as early as 1059 BCE. One of the most significant historical records of astronomical activity was the record of a star that was so bright it could be seen during the day for almost 30 days. This was recorded in China and North America in 1054. Scientists believe this was the explosion of a supernova that is now referred to as the Crab Nebula.
Pythagoras: One of the first leaders in astronomy was Pythagoras, who recorded his theories around 500 BCE. Pythagoras is known for many interesting philosophical and mathematic concepts, but he is credited for figuring out that the so-called "morning star" and "evening star" were both the same planet-Venus. He put forth several astronomy theories that were later disproved, such as the idea that the earth was the center of the solar system, but he also had some theories that were right, such as the idea that the earth was in motion.
Ptolemy: This Greek astronomer put forth some noteworthy astronomy theories around 100 AD. He created an admirable mathematical model of the solar system based on the idea that the earth was the center of the solar system and the other planets orbited on off-center orbits.
Galileo: Galileo taught astronomy in the early 1600s. He used telescopes to determine craters on the moon and sunspots on the sun. He discovered the rings around Saturn and the moons that orbit Jupiter. Galileo put forth new theories on how the solar system works. Some of his theories got him in trouble with the Catholic Church because his new theories contradicted those accepted by the Church at the time. As a result, Galileo was under house arrest for the later years of his life.
Edmund Halley: This astronomer put forth theories about astronomy in the 1680s that used Isaac Newton's principles of gravity to study orbits. Halley's theories were honored by the naming of Halley's Comet.
Even today, NASA and other groups of scientists are discovering new astronomical facts. As the decision to remove Pluto from the list of planets in our solar system shows, we still have a lot to learn about the universe.
When making solar system projects for kids, you can always order a solar system mobile kit. But you can make the project even more fun if you're willing to go the extra mile, literally.
Check out these fun astronomy facts for kids when you're looking for a science project. Your kids can also build up their online research skills as they learn more about astronomy.