Babylonians (17th Century BC)
The Babylonians were amongst the earliest astronomers who recorded the motion of the planets in the sky and produced detailed star charts. By watching the motions of the Sun and the Moon, the Babylonians were also able to predict events such as eclipses. Their main contribution was their accurate and long term recordings of the motions of objects in the sky. These detailed records outlasted the Babylonians and were later picked up by other civilizations. I guess they get the award for thorough record keeping.
Galileo was a ground breaking astronomer, physicist, mathematician, philosopher, and inventor. Among his inventions were telescopes, a compass and a thermometer. Galileo built on the work of others to create a telescope with around 3x magnification, he later improved this to make telescopes with around 30x magnification.
William Herschel (1738-1822)
Sir William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus and several moons around other gas giants. In the course of his studies of the night sky, he also compiled a catalog of 2,500 celestial objects that is still in use today.
The geocentric model was developed thousands of years ago by Greek philosophers and was the accepted model of the Solar System for centuries. This model is also called a Ptolemaic system in honor of the Greek scientist and philosopher Claudius Ptolemy, although the theory was around years before him.
The heliocentric model gradually replaced the geocentric model. This theory revolutionized everything because it reversed centuries of established opinion. Although the idea of a heliocentric model had been around
Hubble Space Telescope
Launched on April 24, 1990, Hubble is the first major optical telescope to be placed in space, the ultimate mountaintop. Above the distortion of the atmosphere, far far above rain clouds and light pollution, Hubble has an unobstructed view of the universe. Scientists have used Hubble to observe the most distant stars and galaxies as well as the planets in our solar system.
Hubble whirls around Earth at 17,500 miles an hour. In its 20 year lifetime, the telescope has made more than 110,00 trips around the Earth. Made more than 930,000 observations and snapped over 570,000 images of 30,000 celestial objects. Each month it generates more than 360 gigabytes of data, which could fill the storage space of an average home computer.
NASA Discovery mission #10
The Kepler Mission, NASA Discovery mission #10, is specifically designed to survey our region of the Milky Way galaxy to discover hundreds of Earth-size and smaller planets in or near the habitable zone and determine the fraction of the hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy that might have such planets.
- Kepler confirmed plants: 167
- Planet candidates: 3,538
- Eclipsing binary stars: 2,165
From the first three years of Kepler data, more than 3,500 potential worlds have emerged. The number of planet candidates identified by Kepler increased by 29 percent and now totals 3,538. The largest increase of 78 percent was found in the Earth-sized category.
Scientists estimate 20-40 billion inhabitable planets just in our Milky Way galaxy alone.