Claudius Ptolemy was the astronomer who wrote a book called the “Almagest”; the book that defined astronomy for almost a thousand years. He made the first geocentric model and catalogued over a thousand stars. Ptolemy was born in 100 AD and he died in 160 AD.
He lived in Alexandria, Egypt (then part of the Roman empire). Not much on his personal life is known, but the fact that he was a Roman Citizen and very wealthy. It is suspected that he may be related to the rulers of the Ptolemaic dynasty; this is likely since they ruled in Alexandria for almost three centuries. The Ptolemaic dynasty ended in 30 BC, when it fell to the Roman empire, but the family remained in Alexandria. This theory would also support the fact that Ptolemy didn’t seem to have any means of income other than inherited wealth. Ptolemy’s most influential work in astronomy was his geocentric model. The geocentric theory is the belief that the earth is completely stationary and that the planets, moon, sun, and, stars all rotate around it in perfectly uniform circles. The model also leaves out the planets Neptune and Uranus.
Although this theory is incorrect it was widely excepted for thousands of years by most scientists. A correct model of the universe wasn’t made until 1543. Ptolemy is credited with a large amount of work such as the cataloging of 1,000 stars and the first geocentric model, however we are not sure how much of it is genuine. An astronomer named Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) pointed out that much of his findings had already been found by other astronomers of his time.Although his work was anything but genius, it is one of only a few works on astronomy of the ancient world still preserved. Through his work we can see the most basic ideas on astronomy of the ancient world. In conclusion Ptolemy compared to some of his contemporaries was a good example of an average scientist for his time. ReferencesClaudius Ptolemy – Biography, Facts and Pictures.
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