Source; https://telescopeobserver.com/astronomy-telescopes-history/ Cite examples of Astronomical phenomena known to astronomers before telescopes Modern scopes have been a long time in the making. Astronomy is one of the oldest natural sciences, its origins dating back before prehistoric times. It is the study and observation of objects in the sky, such as planets, stars, comets, asteroids and nebulae. In the past, there was not a distinction between astronomy and astrology (fortune telling by putting forward the notion of a relationship between astronomical peculiarities, such as Halley’s Comet, and human events); however, in the present era, astronomy and physics have become a closely linked discipline, whereas the reputation of astrology has arguably declined in prestige due to its inaccuracy and lack of reliability. Since prehistoric times, humans have been fascinated with the wonders of the night sky; the first documentation of astronomy was in Babylon (modern day Iraq) in 1645 BC.Halley’s Comet is perhaps one of the best examples of objects being observed throughout the length and breadth of history; it was first seen by various ancient kingdoms such as the Chinese around 240 BCE and the Greeks between 467-466 BCE. Its sighting often preceded great events, such as the Norman Conquest of Britain in 1066, and can be clearly seen in the Bayeux Tapestry. It was later found in 17581759 by Edward Halley, to which the comet is now named after. Another classic example of early astronomy is the famous stone structure of Stonehenge, essentially a giant ‘machine’ which calculated the position of the Sun and planets in the Solar System in relation to each other, as well as predicting the times of eclipses. Finally, the modern-day Gregorian calendar was based upon the solar calendar which measured the duration of one complete orbit of planet Earth around the Sun. Previous calendars, such as the Chinese calendar, relied on the complete orbit of the Moon around Earth, which was approximately 30 days. When ancient kingdoms and empires rose up, they worshipped deities who represented the sky, the universe or the cosmos. Such examples include Nut of Ancient Egypt, who ruled the skies and heavens and Chang’e, the Chinese deity of the moon. The mysteries of what was out there and the desire to discover more about the velvety night sky and what it held continued into the middle ages. With the tide of the Renaissance period in the 15th Century came ‘modern’ forms of astronomy with never before seen technology like the telescope. Nicolaus Copernicus changed the dominant Western way of viewing the Earth in relation to the Sun by proving that the Earth moved around the Sun, not the other way round; he rewrote the heliocentric theory which argues that the Earth and other planets revolve round the Sun. The art of astronomy became a fundamental aspect of European and Chinese exchanges throughout the 17th Century where Western ways of astronomy slowly seeped into China through Jesuit missionaries, where it was also undergoing major discovery and change itself. However, it was not until the 19th Century when the Copernicus philosophy became mainstream thinking in China. In comparison, the heliocentric principle was fully accepted in Japan when Jesuits visited the islands in the 17th Century. Telescopes were received with much appraise and enthusiasm at the royal courts in Beijing. The telescope, a fundamental tool in being able to purvey the skies, was invented in the 17th Century in the Netherlands, but Galileo Galilei is often associated and credited, being the first pioneer in astronomy as well as the first person to use a telescope in 1609. He is also the namesake of the Galilean moons, four satellites located near Jupiter called Io, Ganymede, Europa and Callisto. Isaac Newton is also credited within the annals of astronomical history as the pioneer of the Law of universal gravitation from that famous incident when he observed an apple fall, and deduced the Moon was drawn towards the Earth because of its gravitational pull. Newton is also credited with making the first reflecting telescope which used either single or a number of reflected mirrors. Throughout the 18thand 19th centuries, more and more was being discovered, like the gas giant planet Uranus in 1781 by Sir William Herschel and the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter in 1801. The rise of technology in the 20th century brought this intricate art to the general public, and allowed an unprecedented number of people to purchase telescopes investigate the skyline and pursue their fantasies of never-ending space. Physical cosmology has also taken great strides and advances in its works; research into redshift (electromagnetic radiation wavelength increase) as well as microwave radiation have been shown to prove the existence of the Big Bang. And in 1990, the Hubble telescope was the first telescope to be launched into space, taking never seen before images of far-flung planets, nebulae and solar systems with picture-perfect clarity. The advent of modern technology has also allowed further discoveries of planets not only in our Solar System, but in others too. It has also led to an unprecedented number of journals and further research- around 9000 journals have been published thanks to the ground-breaking work that the telescope has been able to conduct. The Hubble Telescope has also been fundamental in measuring the distances to ‘Cepheid’ stars; prior to the launch, this was often measured with 50% inaccuracy, but now there is around ten per cent leeway. Black holes have also been proven to exist, thanks to the photographs sent by the telescope. Furthermore, the telescope was used to discover a new moon which orbits Pluto (now not considered a planet, but rather a large icy object in the Kuiper Belt beyond Neptune). It is hoped with the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018 that much older galaxies will be seen with its ability to penetrate dust, and to discover more and more distant objects like quasars and galaxy clusters. It will orbit the Earth, much in the same manner as the Hubble Space Telescope. Astronomy Before the Telescope It is difficult to appreciate how important the sky overhead was to our ancestors. In an age of artificial light, the night sky has vanished for most city dwellers. Amateur astronomers travel hundreds of miles to find a location dark enough to reveal the wonders of the heavens. For our ancestors, the sky represented the chief means of telling time, of navigation, of knowing when to start planting crops. The sky was a practical tool of survival and they developed sophisticated tools for measuring the subtle changes from season to season, from month to month, and even from day to day. Surviving tools include the items shown below. Many ancient astronomical devices show up in auctions, including astrolabes, sundials, and astrological tables. Many of these are clever fakes, and many are simply crude reproductions, not intended to fool anyone, produced for the home decór market. Granted that a Mayan sacrificial temple is unlikely to appear on eBay anytime soon, but reproductions of astrolabes and other pre-telescopic devices do show up there. This page presents an assortment of genuine artifacts from museums around the world. Click on a photo for a more detailed enlargement. 500 B.C. A late Babylonian tablet containing an important astronomical compendium. This tablet is only 8.4cm high, and is a miniature masterpiece of Babylonian cuneiform writing. British Museum, WA 86378. The Babylonians developed precise mathematical formulas for predicting astronomical events. Their mathematical theory is elegant, concise, and capable of predicting lunar and planetary phases and positions with astounding accuracy. Many researchers feel the Babylonian techniques represent the first true scientific revolution Venus, normally the third-brightest "star" in the sky, was of supreme importance to most old cultures. The Mayans conducted raids against neighboring tribes by checking the position of Venus for the timing of a battle. The "Caracol" at Chichén Itzá provided an elevated platform for making such observations. The northeast and southwest corners are aligned perfectly with the winter solstice sunset and the summer solstice sunrise. The windows and several other features of the Caracol are aligned with the position of Venus on the horizon when it rises and sets at certain times of the year. The dense jungle makes it impossible to do any astronomy without a clearing, and even then, the horizon is obscured by thick, high vegetation on all sides. I remember climbing the steps of Caracol. Suddenly, the incredibly flat panoply of the jungle was spread out before me in all directions, like a vast green desert. The horizon was unobstructed all around. Had I brought a telescope, this would have been the perfect place to set it up. I spent most of the evening at Chichén Itzá, seeing the stars as our ancestors saw them (this was before it was developed into a tourist attraction and the site was flooded with artificial lighting, laser light shows, hotels, parking lots, etc.) In the old days, on a moonless night I can remember it being so dark that I could see my shadow by the light of Venus. Now I look for dark skies in ancient archaelogical sites that haven't been "developed". A.H. 1203 (A.D.1788/9). The astrolabe was originally invented by the Greeks, but made far more precise by Arab astronomers. The viewer looked through a pair of sighting holes on each end of the long arm. The face of the astrolabe held a disc that could be removed and replaced by other discs, much like a computer. Each disc was used in traveling for a different latitude. By sighting on certain stars and aligning the astrolabe with the north star, the user could determine a precise time for his location. On the back is a sine/cosine quadrant graphs of meridian latitutes for the sun for seven latitudes, graphs of azimuths of numerous stars, a shadow-square, scales of cotangents, and astrological tables. This astrolabe was made by Hajji Ali, and is a fine example of the astrolabes made in Persia during the Safavid period. The maker is unique among astrolabe makers in numbering his work. Ten of the fourteen astrolabes made by him were numbered. The astronomical compendium at right was made by Johann Anton Linden in 1596. It consists of an astrolabe with a rete for 34 stars, a table with the exact location of 29 stars, a lunar aspectarium, a table with the longitude and latitude of 70 towns, and a calendar fo the years 1596-1625. (British Museum MLA 57,11-67,1) Late 17th-century Italian Copernican armillary sphere. Made of beechwood and covered with paper, with engraved, hand-drawn and handcolored circles. Marbled Florentine paper with gilt decoration. The sun is at the center, surrounded by an ecliptic (zodiac) circle and a polar circle. The underside is inscribed in ink die 29 Mensia Xtoris 1621. This date is misleading. Paper was extremely expensive and and it was a typical Florentine practise to re-use it. The date refers to the paper, not the armillary sphere. The written records of the Babylonians, the alignment of Stonehenge and the great sacrificial temples of the Mayans and Aztecs represent more than just tools for telling time and tracking the seasons. Behind the technological achievements is a complex symbolical structure--the mythology, the cosmology, the world view of ancient peoples. For more information on this fascinating aspect of ancient astronomy, see the Bibliography.