Synopses & Reviews
The earliest investigations that can be called scientific are concerned with the sky: they are the beginnings of astronomy. Many early civilizations produced astronomical texts, and several cultures that left no written records left monuments and artifacts-ranging from rock paintings to Stonehenge-that show a clear interest in astronomy. Civilizations in China, Mesopotamia, India and Greece had highly developed astronomies, and the astronomy of the Mayas was by no means negligible. Greek astronomy, as developed by the medieval Arab philosophers, evolved into the astronomy of Copernicus. This displaced the earth from the central stationary position that almost all earlier astronomies had assumed. Soon thereafter, in the first decades of the seventeenth century, Kepler found the true shape of the planetary orbits and Galileo introduced the telescope for astronomical observations.