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Dictionary of Astrological and Astronomical Terms

Compiled by Julene Packer-Louis, Evan Bortnick, and Jackie Goldstein

Copyright 2000-{2019} OCA, Inc. All rights reserved. No portion of the dictionary may be reproduced in any form without written permission.

 

Heliocentric

The Sun (helio) centered (centric) view of the solar system, the details of which were first worked out by Nicholas Copernicus in the early 16th century, but on the assumption that planetary orbits were circular.

It was not until early 17th century when Johannes Kepler worked out the eccentricity of planetary elliptical orbits (1609) that this could become substantiated theory. Meanwhile, Galileo Galilei was the first to put the telescope to the sky. (He did not invent it; a Dutch optician did. He did however, construct his own.)

He discovered Venus' phases and Jupiter's "moons" that obeyed Kepler's laws (1610). But, the early 17th century mind was not ready for this. Because his observations could not be reconciled with the writings of Plato, Aristotle, or certain Bible passages, he was condemned for "vehement suspicion of heresy" by the Roman Catholic Church and placed under house arrest for the remainder of his life.

It wasn't until Isaac Newton, later in the 17th century (1665-1667), came up with his three laws of motion, and his universal law of gravitation, that it was proven 'why' Kepler's three laws worked. Then we had to concur, scientifically, that the Sun is the center of the universe.

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