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Timeline of solar system astronomy Timeline of solar system astronomy
2137 BC, October 22 - Chinese astronomers record a solar eclipse
586 BC - Thales of Miletus predicts a solar eclipse
350 BC - Aristotle argues for a spherical Earth using lunar eclipses and other observations
280 BC - Aristarchus uses the size of the Earth's shadow on the Moon to estimate that the Moon's radius is one-third that of the Earth
200 BC - Eratosthenes uses shadows to determine that the radius of the Earth is roughly 6,400 km
150 BC - Hipparchus uses parallax to determine that the distance to the Moon is roughly 380,000 km
134 BC - Hipparchus discovers the precession of the equinoxes
1512 - Nicholas Copernicus first states his heliocentric theory in Commentariolus
1543 - Nicholas Copernicus shows that his heliocentric theory simplifies planetary motion tables in De Revolutionibus de Orbium Coelestium
1577 - Tycho Brahe uses parallax to prove that comets are distant entities and not atmospheric phenomena
1609 - Johannes Kepler states his first two empirical laws of planetary motion
1610 - Galileo Galilei discovers Callisto, Europa, Ganymede, and Io
1610 - Galileo Galilei sees Saturn's planetary rings but does not recognize that they are rings
1619 - Johannes Kepler states his third empirical law of planetary motion
1655 - Giovanni Cassini discovers Jupiter's great red spot
1656 - Christian Huygens identifies Saturn's rings as rings and discovers Titan and the Orion Nebula
1665 - Giovanni Cassini determines the rotational speeds of Jupiter, Mars, and Venus
1672 - Giovanni Cassini discovers Rhea
1672 - Jean Richer and Giovanni Cassini measure the astronomical unit to be about 138,370,000 km
1675 - Ole Rømer uses the orbital mechanics of Jupiter's moons to estimate that the speed of light is about 227,000 km/s
1705 - Edmund Halley publicly predicts the periodicity of Halley's Comet and computes its expected path of return in 1758
1715 - Edmund Halley calculates the shadow path of a solar eclipse
1716 - Edmund Halley suggests a high-precision measurement of the Sun-Earth distance by timing the transit of Venus
1758 - Johann Palitzsch observes the return of Halley's comet
1766 - Johann Titius finds the Titius-Bode rule for planetary distances
1772 - Johann Bode publicizes the Titius-Bode rule for planetary distances
1781 - William Herschel discovers Uranus during a telescopic survey of the northern sky
1796 - Pierre Laplace states his nebular hypothesis for the formation of the solar system from a spinning nebula of gas and dust
1801 - Giuseppe Piazzi discovers the asteroid Ceres
1802 - Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers discovers the asteroid Pallas
1821 - Alexis Bouvard detects irregularities in the orbit of Uranus
1825 - Pierre Laplace completes his study of gravitation, the stability of the solar system, tides, the precession of the equinoxes, the libration of the Moon, and Saturn's rings in Mécanique Celeste
1843 - John Adams predicts the existence and location of Neptune from irregularities in the orbit of Uranus
1846 - Urbain Le Verrier predicts the existence and location of Neptune from irregularities in the orbit of Uranus
1846 - Johann Galle discovers Neptune
1846 - William Lassell discovers Triton
1849 - Edouard Roche finds the limiting radius of tidal destruction and tidal creation for a body held together only by its self gravity, called the Roche limit, and uses it to explain why Saturn's rings do not condense into a satellite
1856 - James Clerk Maxwell demonstrates that a solid ring around Saturn would be torn apart by gravitational forces and argues that Saturn's rings consist of a multitude of tiny satellites
1866 - Giovanni Schiaparelli realizes that meteor streams occur when the Earth passes through the orbit of a comet that has left debris along its path
1906 - Max Wolf discovers the Trojan asteroid Achilles
1930 - Clyde Tombaugh discovers Pluto
1930 - Seth Nicholson measures the surface temperature of the Moon
1950 - Jan Oort suggests the presence of a cometary Oort cloud
1951 - Gerard Kuiper argues for an annular reservoir of comets between 40-100 astronomical units from the Sun, the Kuiper belt
1959 - Luna 3 sends a picture of the far side of the Moon
1977 - James Elliot discovers the rings of Uranus during a stellar occultation experiment on the Kuiper Airborne Observatory
1978 - James Christy discovers Charon
1978 - Peter Goldreich and Scott Tremaine present a Boltzmann equation model of planetary-ring dynamics for indestructible spherical ring particles that do not self-gravitate and find a stability requirement relation between ring optical depth and particle normal restitution coefficient
1988 - Martin Duncan, Thomas Quinn, and Scott Tremaine demonstrate that short-period comets come primarily from the Kuiper Belt and not the Oort cloud
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