Ancient Greece has always been an interesting topic to ponder about. Lasting for about 350 years, the ancient Greek civilization was one of the largest and most powerful that the world has ever seen, starting from around 776 BC and ending with the fall of Alexander the Great, per historians.
However, although it didn’t last very long, the ancient Greeks were still innovative people and managed to invent many things that are still useful today. From the lighthouse, to the alarm clock, the odometer and even the water wheel, there was no shortage of brilliant minds at the time.
Of course, brilliant minds are also the most curious ones so it’s no wonder that the ancient Greeks also trained their eyes up the sky, managing to discover astronomical facts that are still true to this day. Here are some of the best ones:
The Planets Orbit The Sun
The idea was first made by Aristarchus of Samos (310BC to 230BC), who argued that the sun is the “central fire” of the cosmos. He then placed all the planets around it, making the earliest known heliocentric theory of the solar system. The idea was then rediscovered by Nicolaus Copernicus in the 16th century, who acknowledged Aristarchus in his work. It wasn’t known, however, how Aristarchus managed to work this all out and how he managed to place all the planets in the correct order in his theory.
The Size Of The Moon
Besides creating the first ever theory for the solar system (and placing the planets in the correct order), Aristarchus also made the earliest attempts at calculating the size of the Moon as well as its distance from the sun. And although his estimated distance to the sun was too low due to the lack of telescopic precision at the time, his calculation of the size of the Earth to the Moon is accurate.
The First Astronomical Calculator
The world’s oldest surviving mechanical calculator is called the Antikythera Mechanism, which was discovered in an ancient shipwreck. No one knows who made it, although some speculate that it’s the work of Archimedes.