Astronomy

For millennia people have tracked celestial bodies and used these observations to draw conclusions about the universe and to navigate at sea.  There have been Chinese, Mayan, and Greek observers.  In the 7th century astronomers in Islamic regions began careful observations of their own. During the Renaissance, Copernicus, Brahe, and Kepler questioned standing beliefs and Galileo turned the new-fangled telescope towards the heavens, finding objects hitherto unknown.  By 1850, lens grinding and machining had reached a level that allowed for greater accuracy and observations.  E. E. Barnard, Vanderbilt University’s first astronomer, was an important astronomical observer from the turn of the 20th century.