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Mars Exploration Program

THE 1500s (Tycho Brahe uses his eyes)

Tycho Brahe
Tycho Brahe

The Danish astronomer, Tycho Brahe (1546 - 1601) made surprisingly accurate calculations of the position of Mars 20 years before the telescope was invented! In 1576, Brahe set up an observatory in Hven, an island near Copenhagen where he studied the stars for 20 years. Using keen eyesight and large instruments, he calculated the position of Mars to within four minutes of arc.

Historical Perspective...

In the 1500s, people believed that the Earth was the center of the universe, and everything revolved around our planet. A revolutionary idea was published in 1543 by Nicolaus Copernicus. He provided mathematical evidence for a heliocentric universe, one where the planets in the solar system revolve around the sun. This theory was formed two hundred years before the telescope was invented, using his eyes to watch the heavens. Unfortunately, Copernicus never knew what a change his theory would cause in the scientific community, as his theory was published at the end of his life, and was not widely accepted until about 100 years after his death.