03410 - History of Astronomy

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2017/2018

Learning outcomes

To acquire a good knowledge on the historical evolution of Astronomy. Understand the role of Astronomy (and Astrophysics) in changing our concept of "space" and of Universe throughout the years.

Course contents

The course will show how Astronomy has changed and evolved in time and will  focus also on the effects that these changements have had on our presumed and assumed central position in the universe. 

In summary the course will deal with:

Archeoastronomy. Astronomy in Mesopotamia  and Egypt. The first astronomical distance measures by Greek philosophers. Aristotle.  Aristarchus of Samos. Ipparchus of Nicaea.Claudius Ptolemy. Arabian astronomy and astronomy in the Middle Ages. Nicolaus Copernicus. Galileo Galilei. Johannes von Kepler. Tycho Brahe. Isaac Newton. William Herschel. Joseph von Fraunhofer.


Pannekoek: "A History of Astronomy", Dover, 1989 (italian translation available   online  Alm@Dl)
M Hoskin: "Storia dell'Astronomia", Rizzoli, 2017

Teaching methods

Lectures will be given in the traditional way,  however large space  for discussion will be left on each treated subject. Students will have the opportunity to create individual programs  including one or more subjects among the ones treated (or even not treated) in the course. Individual programs will have to be approved by the teacher. Students from humanistic areas will have course contents more focused  on philosophical aspects than on scientific-technological ones.


Assessment methods

Oral test lasting between 40 and 60 minutes. Half of the test will concern discussion of a subject chosen (and deeply known) by the student. The remaining half of the test will be devoted to verify  by means of a couple of questions  student's knowledge of  the subjects addressed in the course.

Teaching tools

Video Projector and PC.

Office hours

See the website of Paola Focardi