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Definition: A Greek astronomer whose heliocentric theory predated Copernicus by almost 2000 years. Background: Aristarchus of Samos was a Greek astronomer and mathematician belonging to the Pythagorean school. They attempted to understand the universe in terms of geometry and arithmetic. Aristarchus proposed that the earth rotates on its axis daily and that heavenly bodies, including the earth, revolve around the sun. This heliocentric view predated Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) by almost 2000 years! He is also known as the first astronomer to calculate astronomical distances using mathematics, which up to that time had been a matter of guesswork and speculation. A prominent lunar crater (the brightest feature on the moon) is named after him. Further Reading:
Dictionary of Scientists (1999). Aristarchus of Samos [On-line] Available: http://www.xrefer.com/entry/493941
Heath, T. (1913). Aristarchus of Samos: The ancient Copernicus. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
O'Connor, J. J., & Robertson , E. F. (1999). Aristarchus of Samos [On-line] Available: http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/history/Mathematicians/Aristarchus.html
Related Terms: Copernicus, Nicolaus (1473 - 1543)
Pythagoras (cs. 485 - 415 B.C.)
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