### March 28, 1997

From Thomas S. Kuhn: "The Copernican Revolution"
Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, England

p.13, Figure 4

On the first day of class we introduced science fiction. Today we'll introduce astronomy and math.

### 1

Let's compose a list of the following:

• 1. Why do people study astronomy?
• 2. Why did people used to study astronomy?

From Thomas S. Kuhn: "The Copernican Revolution"
Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, England

P.16, Figure 5

• 3. Do you think motivations have changed? In what ways? Which remain the same?

Astronomy is "probably the oldest science" according to some texts. What would be of equal or greater importance to early peoples?

### 2

Weather

How would you compare the study of astronomy to the study of weather?

Now break up into small groups and figure out the following question:

Give 2 similarities and 2 differences between astronomy and weather.

Meteorology is never called ``the oldest science" in books.

Why not?

### 3

A place where both "sciences" intersect is in determining the length of the year.
• 1. How long is a year? Is it just 365 days?
• 2. How do you figure it out? What are the markers? (weather patterns, phases of moon, length of day)
• 3. How do you measure each of these?

### 4

A gnomon is a stick in the ground used to measure shadows.

From Thomas S. Kuhn: "The Copernican Revolution"
Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, England

P.9, Figure 1

P.10, Figure 2

p.12, Figure 3

What could a gnomon tell you about the time of year?

Group exercise: Draw a picture of the pattern of shadows the gnomon casts on a winter day and on a summer day. When you're done, put it up on board so that we can make comparisons between your ideas about what a gnomon and its ability to measure time. What kind of a function do you think your curve is? Could you prove that?

Ask, how does this compare in accuracy with phases of the moon? (The moon only marks time if you know how many phases in a year.) How could you be sure your computation of the solstice is correct?

### 5

Weather

You can measure the year with pretty good accuracy. That is, you can say almost a year in advance when the next solstice will be. How does this compare with measuring weather? How far ahead can we predict weather today?

### 6

The world view at the time before Copernicus saw the earthly sphere near earth as chaotic, disorderly, and unpredictable. The celestial region where all reflects divine harmony. Predictability is a function of location in the cosmos. The earthly region is unpredictable due to the fall of man. The celestial region is orderly due to proximity to God.

### 7

Discussion of astronomy assignment.

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