Archive for History of Exact Sciences

, Volume 69, Issue 2, pp 217–230

On Philolaus’ astronomy


DOI: 10.1007/s00407-014-0147-3

Cite this article as:
Graham, D.W. Arch. Hist. Exact Sci. (2015) 69: 217. doi:10.1007/s00407-014-0147-3


In Philolaus’ cosmology, the earth revolves around a central fire along with the other heavenly bodies, including a planet called the counter-earth which orbits below the earth. His theory can account for most astronomical phenomena. A common criticism of his theory since ancient times is that his counter-earth does no work in the system. Yet ancient sources say the planet was supposed to account for some lunar eclipses. A reconstruction of Philolaus’ cosmology shows how lunar eclipses occurring at certain times of day cannot be explained by earth blocking the sun’s light. The counter-earth could explain these eclipses.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ProvoUSA

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