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When did humanity realize that the Sun is just another star?

  1. Sep 7, 2010 #1
    When did humanity realize that the Sun is similar to the night-time stars? I can find no reference to this in Wikipedia or anywhere else.

    It seems that ancient man thought that the Sun was unique of it's kind (similar to how we perceived the Moon before Galileo observed Jupiter in his telescope), and today we know that it is just an ordinary object such as the thousands that we see in the night sky. However, I can find no reference to when this transition in understanding came about, or how.

    Thanks.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 7, 2010 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    1584, Giordano Bruno.
     
  4. Sep 7, 2010 #3

    Vanadium 50

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    It's right in the article on "Star".
     
  5. Sep 7, 2010 #4
    Thank you!

    Indeed, I had looked in the article on Sun. Thanks.
     
  6. May 15, 2011 #5
    Any ideas how it was "proven" that the sun was a star, and that it was like the other stars of the night sky?
     
  7. May 16, 2011 #6
    Exactly. Bruno obviously was simply postulating, but when was this proven?
     
  8. May 16, 2011 #7

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    What sort of "proof" are you looking for. Like many things in science, evidence accumulated gradually. It wasn't as if one day astronomers spontaneously said, "the sun is no longer a manifestation of Ra; today it is a star." Bruno was the first person to have the right idea.

    By 1610, we had telescopes, and learned that phenomenon we thought were different were the same, merely at different scales - e.g. Jupiter had its own moons. It took 300 years before we were able to look at an H-R diagram and say "the sun goes there". Where do you want to draw the line?
     
  9. May 16, 2011 #8
    I suppose that one would draw the line when we have explorers actually in orbit around another star and they say "Yup, it's hot and leaves a tan!".

    I suppose that reading a history of the accumulation of knowledge on the subject would help. The wikipedia article for star glosses over this bit quickly. I suppose that I'd like to know _if_ it is proven without a doubt that the sun is a star, and when that proof was considered certain. Did it happen when we observed similar physical properties between the sun and other stars, such as spectral lines? What other similarities were we able to observe around the time when it became accepted to call the sun a star?
     
  10. May 16, 2011 #9

    Drakkith

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    Your best bet is to look for a book on the history of astronomy. I'm sure there are a few out there. Also you should be able to find info on the internet as well.
     
  11. May 16, 2011 #10
    Also, if you do find something, could you change the wikipedia article to have a reference to it?
     
  12. May 16, 2011 #11

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  13. May 16, 2011 #12

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    "without a doubt" is not something that science does well. Neither is "proof".

    You have two very strong lines of evidence in the 1800's - you have Fraunhofer and Secchi with spectroscopy, and Bessel's measurement of the parallax of 61 Cygni. Couple that with photometry and it's clear that the sun and other stars have similar intrinsic brightnesses.
     
  14. May 21, 2011 #13
    Well... something like 40% of Americans don't believe the Sun is a star, so... you could make the case that humanity hasn't woken up. :redface:
     
  15. May 21, 2011 #14

    Drakkith

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    Is it that they don't believe it is a star, or that they don't know that its a star?
     
  16. May 21, 2011 #15
    Is that actually the case, or is it one of those self-perpetuating myths that manages to cling on, similar to the humans only use 10% of their brain? I could certainly see a small fraction of fundamentalists believing such, but I'd say most Americans would believe it had they been told such.
     
  17. May 22, 2011 #16
    Flat Earthers, I think. The domed firmament with little stars stuck on with blutak. Though I'm not sure if the Flat Earthers are just a fun group or if they actually believe in it. Reminds me of the Myth Busters show where they disproved each of the claims about the Moon landing being fake.
     
  18. May 22, 2011 #17
    Nice hijack!

    Most people that I talk to and mention it do not know that the sun is just a star. That is quite the reason for starting this thread. However, it is not a matter of belief, but rather ignorance. Once I mention it and explain that the sun appears different only because it is closer, it sticks. It also leads to many other questions and interesting conversation. The average plebeian knows little about the universe, for sure.

    I wonder if it is a national or cultural phenomenon. I live in Israel, where historically we learned much science and technology, but in the past decades the education budget has been shrinking fast.
     
  19. May 22, 2011 #18
    I apologize if you think I was hijacking. That was who I thought you must be speaking of (flat-earthers). I take your point about some having that misunderstanding, though the only people I've come across who don't equate the two are usually young children.
     
  20. May 22, 2011 #19
    No problem Narrator! I was referring to MACHO-WIMP's comment, not yours, and besides this isn't the Debian mailing list! The thread was about done with anyway, and he did bring up an interesting point. I did not intend to be so poignant.

    Carry on!
     
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