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50 votes
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Who first called natural satellites "moons"?

Chistiaan Huygens in 1656 is the first documented evidence. The invention of the telescope limits this to after 1610. Since Galileo was the first to observe such objects, it was Kepler who in 1611 ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
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47 votes
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What is the earliest mention of space travel?

You should define more precisely what do you mean by "space travel" when you are talking about pre-Galileo times. For example, Elijah, the prophet, was taken to heavens in a chariot of fire, ...
Alex's user avatar
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26 votes

What is the earliest mention of space travel?

The earliest mention I know of the possibility was the novella A True History by Lucian in the 2nd century AD, where at one point the protagonists are taken to the moon by a whirlwind, meet the ...
PhillS's user avatar
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25 votes

Who first called natural satellites "moons"?

A publication from 1665, Philosophical Transactions, in an article which tosses about names like Huygens and Cassini, has a discussion concerning a publication by Giuseppe Campani. This article ...
justCal's user avatar
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25 votes
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When did we know the color/appearance of all the planets in our solar system?

Vector site provides a nice summary of what we know about the planets. That will be the source for my answer. Some planets were fairly well known to the ancients, but they could only use their eyes ...
Smith's user avatar
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19 votes
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Was Uranus a Roman god?

I can find no evidence that Uranus was a Roman god. Note that the article you cited in your question provides no sources. In academic sources, I can find no mention of Uranus as a Roman god. Among the ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
14 votes

Was Uranus a Roman god?

Of course, Uranos is basically Caelus: a Greek god as seen in the interpretatio Romana a mere translation; that is a god Romans recognised, but themselves did not worship very much, as already in ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
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13 votes

Before European influence circa 1600, did any Chinese believe the Earth was spherical, and did they ever try to measure it?

See Joseph Needham's momumental work : Science and Civilisation in China: Volume 3, Mathematics and the Sciences of the Heavens and the Earth, Cambridge UP (1959), page 212-213: "Rather ...
Mauro ALLEGRANZA's user avatar
12 votes

When did we know the color/appearance of all the planets in our solar system?

tl;dr If we define "color" as true visible light color and "appearance" as being able to make out surface features, that just leaves "planet". If we include Pluto, 2015 when New Horizons flew by ...
Schwern's user avatar
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11 votes

Did anyone predict the death of the Sun before science?

In Norse mythology, the Sun, named Sól, is chased by a wolf, named Sköll or Fenrir. At the end of times (Ragnarök), Fenrir will catch Sól and eat her. This is not great news: High then quotes stanza ...
Evargalo's user avatar
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10 votes

How did ancient cultures identify a new moon when it can never be seen?

In Jewish custom, all calendar questions were decided by the court (Synedrion). It was a duty of everyone who spotted the new Moon to report to this court as soon as possible. But of course, the new ...
Alex's user avatar
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9 votes

What is the earliest mention of space travel?

Definitely not as old as the other answers, but a classic book about space travel is Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon, dating back to 1865. I'm quite surprised you didn't find that one. Of ...
jcaron's user avatar
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9 votes
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Did anyone predict the death of the Sun before science?

The Aztecs believed that the sun was the fifth in a line of suns, and that each of the preceding four had been destroyed before its successor was created. Various natural disasters had destroyed the ...
Ne Mo's user avatar
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7 votes

When did we know the color/appearance of all the planets in our solar system?

This depends a lot on exactly what you mean by "color/appearance of all the planets". If you consider just the classical planets (Mercury through Saturn) we knew their color in prehistoric times. We ...
Mark Olson's user avatar
  • 7,703
7 votes

Before European influence circa 1600, did any Chinese believe the Earth was spherical, and did they ever try to measure it?

I am not sure about 1600, but there is a famous book on astronomy called Zhou bi suan jing, which is usually translated as "The Arithmetic Classic of the Gnomon and the Circular Paths of Heaven". It ...
Alex's user avatar
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7 votes

What is the earliest mention of space travel?

The Epic of Gilgamesh dates from as early as the Third Dynasty of Ur (c. 2100 BC), and mentions travel, e.g., see the Standard Babylonian version tablets II–V, specifically: he spoke to Young Hero ...
A T's user avatar
  • 171
6 votes

Who is "Rhadir of Seville"?

Within all probability, the most likely explanation seems to be that this is a mixup. The correct name should be: "Abū Muḥammad Jābir ibn Aflaḥ", a Muslim astronomer also known as latinised ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
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5 votes

When did people first recognize the estimate sizes/scales and nature of celestial bodies?

This was a very slow and gradual process, which still continues, so the question "when" has no meaning here. Ancient Greeks already knew that "The moon is larger than Peloponnese". But the first ...
Alex's user avatar
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5 votes

When did people first recognize the estimate sizes/scales and nature of celestial bodies?

Aristarchus is the first to measure the relative size of Earth and the Moon in the third century B.C., at a ratio of 8:3. This is a bit lower than the modern calculation at 3.7:1 due to ignorance of ...
Pieter Geerkens's user avatar
5 votes
Accepted

When did people first recognize the estimate sizes/scales and nature of celestial bodies?

Other people have given some of the history on discovering distances to planets, so I'll focus on the issue of "how did people learn the sizes of planets"? Though I will point out that accurate ...
Peter Erwin's user avatar
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5 votes

Why did Galileo decide to flame Fr. Grassi over the latter's theory of comets, making sure to lose the Jesuits’ support?

The short, simple answer is: personal pride and professional disagreement. BACKGROUND In the latter half of 1618, three comets appeared Jesuit mathematicians at the Roman College studied the ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
5 votes

Did any Chinese scholars propose a heliocentric model?

Although it doesn't state whether a heliocentric model was proposed, I'd imagine some Chinese scholars entertained the possibility. Foremost, they had to overcome the accepted beliefs of their time, ...
Rhetorikolas's user avatar
5 votes

Did anyone predict the death of the Sun before science?

Yes. Probably the first rigorous hypothesis about the source of Sun's energy is the Helmholtz-Thompson mechanism (or Helmholtz-Kelvin) of gravitational contraction which predicts something like 20 ...
Radovan Garabík's user avatar
5 votes
Accepted

Why did the Babylonians choose to add the 13th lunar month every 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17, and 19 years, for a 19-year cycle?

Because 19 Divided by 7 is 2.7 To match up the solar and lunar calendars, you need to add 7 months every 19 years. Since 19 / 7 is 2.7, the most straightforward way to add those months is every 2 or 3 ...
codeMonkey's user avatar
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4 votes
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How is the accuracy of the Maya Calendar measured?

The Gregorian, and indeed the Roman, Egyptian, and Chinese calendars all include occasional intercalary periods to make up the 0.24 of a solar day that is left over when using a 365-day calendar. ...
Aaron Brick's user avatar
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4 votes
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Accuracy of Ancient Dates of Persian/Middle East Based on Astronomy

All our system of exact dating of events of ancient history is based on Babylonian astronomical observations. There is a large number of astronomical cuneiform tables found in Mesopotamia. Only in ...
Alex's user avatar
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4 votes
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Has anyone ever used an eclipse to scare people?

A total lunar eclipse occurred on 1 March 1504, visible at sunset for the Americas, and later over night over Europe and Africa, and near sunrise over Asia. During his fourth and last voyage, ...
MAGolding's user avatar
  • 19.3k
3 votes

When did people first recognize the estimate sizes/scales and nature of celestial bodies?

I think, combining answers and comments here, three "milestones" can be established. Estimate of the size of the Moon and Sun, by Aristarchus, as mentioned by Pieter Geerkens, gave a rough ballpark ...
SF.'s user avatar
  • 333
3 votes

When did we know the color/appearance of all the planets in our solar system?

Here is a discussion of the astrological symbolical colors of various planets. http://cura.free.fr/22plcome.html1 Mercury: variable, brown, or multicolored. Venus: white, blue, or green. Mars: red....
MAGolding's user avatar
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3 votes

What was the first recorded reference to the fact that the sun rises and sets at different times across the Earth?

Not sure if they were the first, but ancient Greeks clearly had the idea based on Wikipedia's history of longitude Eratosthenes in the 3rd century BC first proposed a system of latitude and ...
Brian Z's user avatar
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