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Geosciences LibreTexts

1.14: Earth's Place in the Universe

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    • Contributed by Miracosta Oceanography 101
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    Earth's Place in the Universe

    Giant redwood in Big Basin State Park, CAMany aspects of astronomy have contributed to the knowledge of the origin and geologic history of planet Earth. Meteorites have been found, collected, and studied for centuries. Telescopes on the ground and now in space, satellites, robotic and manned missions to space, the Moon, and other planets and moons in our Solar System objects have greatly expanded the collective knowledge about the origin of our planet and objects in the Solar System—all of which have evolved to their current state over billions of year. So far, life is only known to exist on Earth, but it could possibly exist elsewhere, even within our Solar System. We just haven't proven it yet.
    Figure 1.32. Like this giant redwood in Big Basin State Park, California. All physical materials, including life on Earth, have an origin connected to the formation of elements that formed from events that happened in space many billions of years ago!

    Discoveries Leading To Modern Astronomy

    Claudius Ptolemaeus (~100-170 CE), also know simply as Ptolemy, was an Egyptian astronomer, geographer, and mathematician (of Greek descent) who became well known in the Alexandria philosophical community in the 2nd century. Although Ptolemy made a variety of important, if not interesting, contributions to knowledge of his times, perhaps his most significant, and long lasting, was his observations of the orbits of planets and constellations. He promoted the geocentric model, that Earth was the center of the observable Universe. The ancient Greek, Roman, and Muslim astronomers followed the geocentric model (or Ptolemaic system) that described the Universe with the Earth at its center.