The Protestant Reformation and the Copernican Revolution Synthesis

Students are asked to trace the history of Astronomy from Ptolemy and his geocentric model through Copernicus' heliocentric model and the confirmation of his little paper. The Copernican Revolution was given impetus following the pioneering works and statements of Martin Luther. His writing opened the door to new patterns of critical inquiry, against the close views of the Catholic Church. Your writing must include a discussion of Church history and why Martin Luther's defense at Wurms, Germany was so critical to the advancement of science. Copernicus developed a heliocentric model, Tycho Brahe provided the valuable star maps which Johannes Kepler correctly interpreted to develop his laws of planetary motion. Galileo provided visual confirmation of the Copernican model, and Isaac Newton laid down the physical laws which govern the motion of stars and planets.

You are to write a paper which traces this history, and any diagrams will help you describe it. The paper is to be a minimum of 400 words and will be worth 250 points toward your final grade. The paper also is a key component of the Minnesota Graduation Standard for this class because it deals with the history of science and the interrelationship between science and society (here particularly between astronomy and religion). The paper should be completed by the end of the second week of the course, and any which are turned in after that date will lose points for each successive late day.

Once completed, you may submit your work to me via e-mail (, postal service, office mail, or in person.

Please return Newton or go directly to the Exploration of Space, or either the Home page or Syllabus.

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