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Aristarchus of Samos

Aristarchus of SamosBorn: c. 310 BC
Birthplace: Samos, Greece
Died: c. 230 BC
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Astronomer

Nationality: Ancient Greece
Executive summary: First heliocentrist

Greek astronomer, flourished about 250 BC. He is famous as having been the first to maintain that the earth moves round the sun. On this account he was accused of impiety by the Stoic Cleanthes, just as Galileo Galilei, in later years, was attacked by the theologians. His only extant work is a short treatise (with a commentary by Pappus) On the Magnitudes and Distances of the Sun and Moon. His method of estimating the relative lunar and solar distances is geometrically correct, though the instrumental means at his command rendered his data erroneous. Although the heliocentric system is not mentioned in the treatise, a quotation in the Arenarius of Archimedes from a work of Aristarchus proves that he anticipated the great discovery of Nicolaus Copernicus. Further, Copernicus could not have known of Aristarchus's doctrine, since Archimedes's work was not published until after Copernicus's death. Aristarchus is also said to have invented two sundials, one hemispherical, the so-called scaphion, the other plane.

    Asteroid Namesake 3999 Aristarchus
    Lunar Crater Aristarchus (23.7N, 47.4W, 40km dia)

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