Famous 16th Century Astronomers

Find out more about the greatest 16th Century Astronomers, including Galileo Galilei, Nicolaus Copernicus, Johannes Kepler, Tycho Brahe and Giordano Bruno

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Galileo Galilei

Galileo Galilei
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: February 15, 1564
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Pisa, Italy
Died: January 8, 1642

An Italian astronomer, engineer, and physicist, Galileo Galilei is widely regarded as the father of observational astronomy, the father of the scientific method, the father of modern physics, and the father of modern science. He is credited with popularizing the telescope, which changed the course of history.

 2 Nicolaus Copernicus

Nicolaus Copernicus
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: February 19, 1473
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Toruń, Poland
Died: May 24, 1543

Nicolaus Copernicus was a mathematician and astronomer. He is credited with formulating Heliocentrism, which led to the Copernican Revolution. Although Aristarchus of Samos had formulated Heliocentrism 18 centuries earlier, Copernicus was responsible for popularizing it. Copernicus is also credited with formulating an economic principle, which was later called Gresham's law.

 3 Johannes Kepler

Johannes Kepler
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: December 27, 1571
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Weil der Stadt, Germany
Died: November 15, 1630

This 17th-century German mathematician, astronomer, and astrologer is remembered for his pathbreaking work on optics. He invented a developed version of the refracting telescope. He also laid down Kepler's laws of planetary motion and wrote Astronomia Nova, Harmonices Mundi, and Epitome Astronomiae Copernicanae.

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 4 Tycho Brahe

Tycho Brahe
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: December 14, 1546
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Knutstorp Manor, Sweden
Died: October 24, 1601
Danish astronomer and writer Tycho Brahe, an heir to a noble family, was one of the last greatest naked-eye astronomers. According to the Tychonic system of astronomy, the Sun orbited the Earth. His assistant Johannes Kepler used Tycho's astronomical data to form his laws of planetary motion.

 5 Gerolamo Cardano

Gerolamo Cardano
Famous As: Polymath
Birthdate: September 24, 1501
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Pavia, Italy
Died: September 21, 1576

Italian polymath Gerolamo Cardano is best known for his iconic work Ars magna, or The Great Art, which contributed immensely to the field of algebra. Throughout his illustrious life, he had been a physician, a math lecturer, and an astrologer. He was also the first to describe typhus fever clinically.

 6 Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland

Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland
Famous As: Nobleman
Birthdate: April 27, 1564
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Tynemouth Castle, Northumberland, England

 7 Pierre Gassendi

Pierre Gassendi
Famous As: Philosopher, Mathematician, Astronomer, Professor, Astrologer
Birthdate: January 22, 1592
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Champtercier
Died: October 24, 1655

French Catholic priest and astronomer Pierre Gassendi is remembered for his efforts to reconcile atomism with Christian ideals and for his anti-Aristotelianism. His studies included research on Epicurean philosophy. Apart from observing the transit of Mercury, he also studied the speed of sound and horizontal momentum.

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 8 Willebrord Snell

Willebrord Snell
Famous As: Astronomer & Mathematician
Birthdate: June 13, 1580
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Leiden, Dutch Republic
Died: October 30, 1626

Willebrord Snell was a Dutch mathematician and astronomer. He is credited with rediscovering the law of refraction, which is named Snell's law in his honor. A much-revered mathematician in the Netherlands, Willebrord Snell was honored by the Royal Netherlands Navy by naming three of its survey ships after him. Snellius, a lunar crater, is also named in his honor.

 9 Xu Guangqi

Xu Guangqi
Famous As: Mathematician, Astronomer, Politician
Birthdate: April 24, 1562
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Shanghai, Songjiang, Southern Zhili, China
Died: November 8, 1633

 10 Christopher Clavius

Christopher Clavius
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: March 25, 1538
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Bamberg, Germany
Died: February 6, 1612

Christopher Clavius was a Jesuit German astronomer and mathematician. Clavius was one of the members of the Vatican commission that gave a green signal to Aloysius Lilius' calendar which came to be known as the Gregorian calendar. He was one of Europe's most respected astronomers; his books were used for over 50 years for astronomical education in and around Europe.

 11 Simon Marius

Simon Marius
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: January 20, 1573
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Gunzenhausen, Germany
Died: January 5, 1625

Simon Marius was a German astronomer who was one of the first observers of Jupiter's four largest moons. He was charged with plagiarism for publishing his discovery. He is now credited with naming the moons of Jupiter. Simon Marius is also remembered for being Galileo Galilei's one of foremost rivals.

 12 Thomas Digges

Thomas Digges
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: 1546 AD
Birthplace: Wootton, Kent, England
Died: August 24, 1595

 13 Abraham Zacuto

Abraham Zacuto
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: August 12, 1452
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Salamanca, Spain
Died: 1515 AD

 14 Christoph Scheiner

Christoph Scheiner
Famous As: Priest
Birthdate: July 25, 1573
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Holy Roman Empire
Died: June 18, 1650

Christoph Scheiner was a Jesuit priest, astronomer, and physicist. He is credited with inventing the pantograph which he demonstrated in Munich after he was invited by Duke William V of Bavaria. Several schools and streets in Germany are named after him. A lunar crater is also named in his honor.

 15 Georg Joachim Rheticus

Georg Joachim Rheticus
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: February 16, 1514
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Feldkirch, Austria
Died: December 4, 1574

Having lost his doctor father to an execution after he was charged with stealing from his patients, Georg Joachim Rheticus ditched his paternal surname. The Austrian-born mathematician is best remembered for his tables of trigonometric functions. He was also one of the first to propagate the Copernican heliocentric theory.

 16 Johann Bayer

Johann Bayer
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Rain

Johann Bayer was a German uranographer and lawyer. He is best remembered for gauging the positions of several objects on the celestial sphere. His book Uranometria, which was published in 1603, publicized a system of identifying stars that are visible to the naked eye. The moon’s crater Bayer is named so in his honor.

 17 Petrus Apianus

Petrus Apianus
Birthdate: 0000 AD

Petrus Apianus was a German humanist whose published works pertaining to geography and astronomy are considered one of the most important works of his time. His works, such as Cosmographicus liber (1524) and Astronomicum Caesareum (1540), which were translated into several languages were being published even after his death.

 18 Edmund Gunter

Edmund Gunter
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: 1581 AD
Birthplace: Hertfordshire, England
Died: December 10, 1626

 19 Oronce Finé

Oronce Finé
Birthdate: 0000 AD

Sixteenth-century French mathematician Oronce Finé was also a skilled cartographer. Some of his best works remain his heart-shaped map of the world, his ivory sundial, and his woodcut map of France. He also earned a degree in medicine and was imprisoned for opposing the French king’s concordat to universities.

 20 Baha' al-din al-'Amili

Baha' al-din al-'Amili
Famous As: islamic Scholar
Birthdate: February 18, 1547
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Baalbek, Lebanon
Died: September 1, 1621

Baha' al-din al-'Amili was an Arab Iranian Shia philosopher, Islamic scholar, architect, astronomer, mathematician, and poet who flourished in Safavid Iran during the late 16th and early 17th century. Baha' al-din al-'Amili was one of the first astronomers in the Islamic world to advocate the possibility of the Earth's movement before the outspread of the Copernican theory.

 21 Sophia Brahe

Sophia Brahe
Birthdate: 0000 AD

 22 Jean Fernel

Jean Fernel
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: 1497 AD
Birthplace: Montdidier, France
Died: April 26, 1558

 23 Aloysius Lilius

Aloysius Lilius
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: 1510 AD
Birthplace: Cirò, Calabria, Italy
Died: 1576 AD

Aloysius Lilius, also known as Luigi Lilio, is best remembered as the main author of the Gregorian Calendar. Well-versed in medicine and astronomy, Lilius hailed from Calabria, Italy, though not much is known about his life. His calendar was presented to Pope Gregory XIII by his brother Antonio.

 24 Michael Maestlin

Michael Maestlin
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: September 30, 1550
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Göppingen, Germany
Died: October 26, 1631

Once a Lutheran pastor, Michael Maestlin later became one of the greatest astronomers from Germany. He was one of the first to teach the heliocentric Copernican theory and later became famous as the mentor of Johannes Kepler. He was also apparently the first to measure the orbit of a comet.

 25 Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc

Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: December 1, 1580
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Belgentier, France
Died: June 24, 1637

The son of an affluent surgeon from Provence, Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc grew up to be a famous astronomer, known mostly for his research on longitudes. He is also remembered for discovering the Orion Nebula and owned a huge collection of coins, which he used to study history.

 26 Erasmus Reinhold

Erasmus Reinhold
Birthdate: 0000 AD

 27 Al-Birjandi

Birthdate: 0000 AD

 28 Johannes Fabricius

Johannes Fabricius
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: January 8, 1587
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: East Frisia, Germany
Died: March 19, 1616

Dutch astronomer Johannes Fabricius is credited with being the first to observe sunspots and to write about them. He also finds mention in Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon. Along with his father, astronomer David Fabricius, he used a camera obscura for their celestial explorations.

 29 Niccolò Zucchi

Niccolò Zucchi
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: December 6, 1586
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Parma, Italy
Died: May 21, 1670

Italian Jesuit, astronomer, and physicist Niccolò Zucchi, who reported spots on Mars, may have been, along with fellow Jesuit Daniello Bartoli, the first who spotted belts on planet Jupiter. Zucchi showed that phosphors generate rather than store light in his book Optica philosophia experimentis et ratione a fundamentis constituta, which includes probably the earliest known elucidation of a reflecting telescope.  

 30 Christen Sørensen Longomontanus

Christen Sørensen Longomontanus
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: October 4, 1562
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Jutland, Egtved, Denmark
Died: October 8, 1647

 31 Philipp Nikodemus Frischlin

Philipp Nikodemus Frischlin
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: September 22, 1547
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Klettgau, Germany
Died: November 29, 1590

German mathematician, astronomer, poet, and Renaissance humanist Philipp Nikodemus Frischlin began his career as a professor of poetry and history and later studied the works of Virgil. He was later arrested for defamation and imprisoned at a fortress. He fell to his death while trying to escape his cell.

 32 John Bainbridge

John Bainbridge
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: 1582 AD
Birthplace: Ashby-de-la-Zouch, England
Died: November 3, 1643

 33 Zhi zao Li

Zhi zao Li
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: 1565 AD
Birthplace: Hangzhou, China
Died: December 1, 1630