Famous 16th Century Astronomers

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Find out more about the greatest 16th Century Astronomers, including Galileo Galilei, Nicolaus Copernicus, Johannes Kepler, Tycho Brahe and Giordano Bruno
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 1 
Galileo Galilei
(Known as “Father” of Observational Astronomy who Invented the ‘Thermoscope’ and Various Military Compasses)
Galileo Galilei
120
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
(Polish Astronomer Who Proposed That the Earth Revolves Around the Sun)
Nicolaus Copernicus
8
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
(Astronomer Best Known for his Laws of Plantery Motion)
Johannes Kepler
9
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
(16th Century Danish Astronomer Who is Known for His Accurate and Comprehensive Astronomical Observations)
Tycho Brahe
8
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.
Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland
4
Birthdate: April 27, 1564
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Tynemouth Castle, Northumberland, England
 6 
Pierre Gassendi
(Philosopher, Mathematician, Astronomer, Professor, Astrologer)
Pierre Gassendi
4
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.

 7 
Willebrord Snell
(Astronomer & Mathematician)
Willebrord Snell
4
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.

 8 
Xu Guangqi
(Ming Dynasty Official and One of the Most Prominent Chinese Converts to Christianity)
Xu Guangqi
3
Birthdate: April 24, 1562
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Shanghai, Songjiang, Southern Zhili, China
Died: November 8, 1633
 9 
Christopher Clavius
(German Mathematician and Astronomer Who Was the Main Architect of the Modern 'Gregorian Calendar')
Christopher Clavius
3
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.

 10 
Simon Marius
(Astronomer)
Simon Marius
3
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.

 11 
Christoph Scheiner
(German Jesuit Priest, Physicist and Astronomer)
Christoph Scheiner
3
Birthdate: July 25, 1573
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Markt Wald, Germany
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.

 12 
Thomas Digges
(Mathematician)
Thomas Digges
3
Birthdate: 1546 AD
Birthplace: Wootton, Kent, England
Died: August 24, 1595
 13 
Abraham Zacuto
(Royal Astronomer Under King John II of Portugal)
Abraham Zacuto
3
Birthdate: August 12, 1452
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Salamanca, Spain
Died: 1515 AD

Abraham Zacuto was a Castilian mathematician, astrologer, astronomer, historian, and rabbi. He is best remembered for his service as the Royal Astronomer under King John II of Portugal. Abraham Zacuto's maritime charts and astronomical tables played a prominent role in the Portuguese and Spanish navigation capability; they were used by the likes of Christopher Columbus and Vasco Da Gama. 

 14 
Georg Joachim Rheticus
(Austrian Mathematician and Astronomer Best Known for His 'Trigonometric Tables')
Georg Joachim Rheticus
3
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.

Oronce Finé
3

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.

Johann Bayer
3
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 
Edmund Gunter
(Mathematician)
Edmund Gunter
3
Birthdate: 1581 AD
Birthplace: Hertfordshire, England
Died: December 10, 1626
Petrus Apianus
3

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.

 19 
Baha' al-din al-'Amili
(Iranian Mathematician, Theologian, Philosopher and Astronomers)
Baha' al-din al-'Amili
3
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.

Sophia Brahe
3
 21 
Jean Fernel
(Physician)
Jean Fernel
3
Birthdate: 1497 AD
Birthplace: Montdidier, France
Died: April 26, 1558
 22 
Michael Maestlin
(Astronomer)
Michael Maestlin
3
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.

 23 
Aloysius Lilius
(Astronomer)
Aloysius Lilius
3
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.

Erasmus Reinhold
2
Al-Birjandi
2
 26 
Johannes Fabricius
(Astronomer)
Johannes Fabricius
2
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.

Christen Sørensen Longomontanus
2
Birthdate: October 4, 1562
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Jutland, Egtved, Denmark
Died: October 8, 1647

Christen Sørensen Longomontanus was a Danish astronomer best remembered for developing Tycho Brahe's geoheliocentric model of the universe. Brahe's geoheliocentric model, which was also known as the Tychonic system, was widely accepted at that time. Christen Sørensen Longomontanus also published major works in astronomy and mathematics such as Systematis Mathematici and Disputatio de Eclipsibus. 

 28 
Philipp Nikodemus Frischlin
(German Philologist, Poet, Playwright, Mathematician, and Astronomer)
Philipp Nikodemus Frischlin
0
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.

 29 
John Bainbridge
(Astronomer)
John Bainbridge
1
Birthdate: 1582 AD
Birthplace: Ashby-de-la-Zouch, England
Died: November 3, 1643
 30 
Zhi zao Li
(Mathematician)
Zhi zao Li
1
Birthdate: 1565 AD
Birthplace: Hangzhou, China
Died: December 1, 1630