What was the Ptolemaic System?

The Ptolemaic System was a scheme devised by Ptolemy (an ancient Greek astronomer, 100-168AD). Ptolemy proposed a system  which placed the earth directly at the center of the universe, so that the Sun, Moon and all the other planets would all orbit around the Earth. However, Ptolemy soon discovered that the movement of the planets did not match his system, therefore he added small orbits in an attempt to make his system work.

Although the was inaccurate and complicated, the Ptolemaic System was still functional enough to make predictions of planetary positions. The Ptolemaic System was adopted by the Roman Catholic Church as part of its doctrine. However in the 1570’s, Tycho Brahe (a Danish astronomer) made accurate measurements of the planetary positions, proving the Ptolemaic system to be inaccurate. Although the system had been proved inaccurate, it was not until 1609 when Johannes Kepler (a German astronomer) came up with a better explanation of the planetary orbits, putting the Ptolemaic system to rest.


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