Our Place in the Universe

Understanding Fundamental Astronomy from Ancient Discoveries

  • Sun Kwok

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxv
  2. Sun Kwok
    Pages 1-9
  3. Sun Kwok
    Pages 17-24
  4. Sun Kwok
    Pages 25-31
  5. Sun Kwok
    Pages 33-48
  6. Sun Kwok
    Pages 49-59
  7. Sun Kwok
    Pages 61-69
  8. Sun Kwok
    Pages 71-81
  9. Sun Kwok
    Pages 83-92
  10. Sun Kwok
    Pages 93-110
  11. Sun Kwok
    Pages 111-126
  12. Sun Kwok
    Pages 127-135
  13. Sun Kwok
    Pages 137-142
  14. Sun Kwok
    Pages 143-147
  15. Sun Kwok
    Pages 149-157
  16. Sun Kwok
    Pages 159-168
  17. Sun Kwok
    Pages 177-184
  18. Sun Kwok
    Pages 185-196
  19. Sun Kwok
    Pages 197-203
  20. Sun Kwok
    Pages 205-211
  21. Sun Kwok
    Pages 213-216
  22. Back Matter
    Pages 217-267

About this book


If you have ever wanted to understand the basic principles of astronomy and celestial movements, you should read this book. Using pictures of the sky observed from different places on Earth, as well as drawings of ancient astronomical methods and tools, Prof. Sun Kwok tells this story in an entertaining and fascinating way.

Since the beginning of human civilization, people have wondered about the structure of the cosmos and our place in the Universe.  More than 2,000 years ago, our ancestors knew that the seasons were unequal, the Earth was an unattached object floating in space, and stars existed that they could not see.  From celestial observations, they concluded that the Earth was round.  Using simple tools and mathematics, ancient astronomers accurately determined the sizes of the Earth and Moon, the distance to the Moon, and the lengths of the months and year.

With a clever device called the armillary sphere, Greek astronomers could predict the times of sunrise and sunset on any day of the year, at any place on Earth. They developed sophisticated mathematical models to forecast Mars’ motions hundreds of years into the future.

Find out how ancient observers achieved these remarkable feats. With minimal use of mathematics, this book retraces the footsteps of our ancestors, explains their intellectual journeys in simple terms, and explores the philosophical implications of these discoveries. 


Introduction to Astronomy Motions of celestial bodies explained History of Astronomy Ancient Astronomy World models Models of the Universe

Authors and affiliations

  • Sun Kwok
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of ScienceThe University of Hong KongHong KongChina

Bibliographic information