Links on History of Astronomy up to Newton

General & Key History Links

A Brief Introduction to Archaeoastronomy from the Center for Archaeoastronomy provides a useful introduction to prehistoric astronomy and has numerous links.

Astronomiae Historia/History of Astronomy from Bonn University has extensive links and lists of material on the history of astronomy.

BBC - Final Frontier - Discoveries is a set of pages that provide brief introductions to the key periods in the history of astronomy, from the ancients, classical Greece, medieval, renaissance, modern and 20th century and the future. It has useful concise biographies of key classical philosophers including Aristotle and Plato.

From Stargazers to Starships is an excellent and detailed site by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center that covers the astronomy of Earth's motion through space, Netwonian mechanics and Kepler, the Sun and spaceflight. It also has sections on relevant mathematics and other links. The whole site can be downloaded as a tarred and zipped file.

Greek and Copernican Cosmology is a useful "webwalk" that takes the reader through aristotelian, ptolemaic and copernican cosmologies. It includes animations and effective diagrams.

Starry Messenger is part of the Electronic History of Astronomy developed in the Whipple Museum of the History of Science at the University of Cambridge. It has pages on many of key ancient and Renaissance astronomers plus details about instruments and techniques. Detailed and useful.

The Physics Evolution is a wonderful interactive site developed by the Institute of Physics in the UK. It uses Flash animations to allow students to explore a scaleable map to explore key characters and events in the history and evolution of physics. Ancient philosphers and the Renaissance or two of the included eras. People such as Newton and Aristotle are discussed at an appropriate introductory level.

History of astronomy - Wikipedia is a useful overview article by a free online encyclopedia.

Classical & Early Astronomy

Aristotle is a biographical page from Greek Astronomy . This has an excellent overview of the topic with extensive links for further reading. Part of an extensive history site from the School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews, Scotland.

Ptolemaic Astronomy from the University of Chicago gives a useful discussion of the Ptolemaic model and the philosophy behind it.

The Universe of Aristotle and Ptolemy is a handy one-page section of an online course in astronomy. Summarises the key points effectively. Has useful diagrams and an animation of how the Ptolemaic model explains retrograde motion.

Medieval & Renaissance Astronomy

Copernicus is a detailed biography with numerous links and extracts from published sources. Part of an extensive history site from the School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews, Scotland.

Johannes Kepler: His Life, His Laws and Times provides an excellent overview of him. It has some animations of his laws of planetary motion. The site is part of NASA's Kepler space mission to discover Earth-like planets in other star systems.

Medieval Cosmology, part of a lecture series from the University of Oregon, provides a useful summary of the key points of and influences on western medieval cosmology. It discusses the evidence for and against heliocentric theories ans the aristotelian and ptolemaic models. Has an online quiz related to the material.

Myths about the Copernican Revolution, from the National University of Singapore, tackles some common misconceptions about copernican and ptolemaic models in a concise and effective manner.

Nicolaus Copernicus is a concise one-page biography. Part of a larger site of biographies of scientists.

Nicolaus Copernicus Museum in Frombock (formerly Frauenberg) provides a timeline of his life and work and portraits of him.

Medieval Science provides an extensive range of links to a numerous branches of science including astronomy and cosmology.

Ptolemaic Astronomy in the Middle Ages, from Princeton, is a detailed discussion, with diagrams. is the website of the Tycho Brahe Museum on the island of Ven (formerly Hven) where he built his observatory, Uraniborg. Has details about his science, life and observatory.

Galileo & Newton

Afocal CCD Images Through a Galilean Telescope is an excellent resource that provides CCD images that approximate what the human eye would see through a Galilean telescope. It has images of the Sun, Moon, Venus, stars and nebulae. The site provides historical background and technical details.

Isaac Newton Links gives a useful set of annotated links by category on the life and work of Newton. This is part of the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences at Cambridge.

Newton is an excellent one-page biography, part of an extensive history site from the School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews, Scotland.

Newtonian Gravitation and the Laws of Kepler gives a concise account of how Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation acconts for Kepler's Laws. It also has some animations and applets.

The Art of Renaissance Science: Galileo and Perspective has a wealth of diagrams matched with clear, concise text. There are some animations of his experiments.

The Institute and Museum of the History of Science in Florence has a wealth of detail on the history of astronomy including Galialeo's work. Their new website is worth exploring. Much of it is in English although some sections, including an excellent simulation of early telescopes, is only available in Italian at present.

The Galileo Project is an excellent online source for all things related to Galileo. It is hosted by Rice University and includes his writings,
details on his experiments and observations and links.

The Newton Project is an authoritative site with the long-term aim of making all of Newton's works available online in a searchable format. This will not ionly include his scientific writings but also his vast tracts on theology and alchemy. This site includes a wealth of background and source material.

Animations, Software and Applets

Gravitational Orbits explores Kepler's laws via a two-body system that allows you to change parameters and displays.

Kepler's Second Law is a useful applet that allows you to model the orbit of the various planets and Halley's Comet or aet your own parameters.

Imagine the Universe! Theatre: Kepler's Laws, I, II and III is a NASA site that allows you to view AVI or Quicktime© movies of each of Kepler's Laws and view descriptions.

Ptolemy's Model is an effective applet that demonstrates equants, deferant centre and epicycles for a planet orbiting the Earth.

Virtual Lab: Kepler Motion Java Applet allows you to explore Kepler's three laws and plot relationship between T2 and R3.

There are dozens of other relevant applets available on the web, particulalry for Kepler's Laws.