Who was the first person to recognize the stars as very distant suns?

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Thecla
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The stars at night are very distant suns.This must have been a great leap in imagination.
The first person to realize the night sky is filled with stars similar to our sun was a great leap in imagination. Cassini in 1672 measured the sun distance by parallax measurement of Mars so I assume he knew. But you didn't have to know the solar distance to speculate that the stars were more distant suns. A sun-centered solar system is helpful. Did Copernicus speculate on this? Did Galileo suggest this? A sun centered solar system was contrary to the Church teaching at the time. I would think that there are thousands of suns would be equally disruptive.
 

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  • #2
hutchphd
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This dates back at least to Aristarchus of Samos 450BC

=>See @glappkaeft #3 for correction !
 
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glappkaeft
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This dates back at least to Aristarchus of Samos 450BC
Almost, Aristarchus of Samos wasn't born until 310 BC but Anaxagoras had similar ideas around 450 BC.

 
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Baluncore
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We only know of the early ideas that provoked a response, and of which reports have survived, being passed down through several eras of records.

The innovator will be persecuted by the State and the Church only when the novel idea matures, to become a firm conviction. That appears to have become our measure of novelty, since the innovator was prepared to argue and die for their belief.
 
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PAllen
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Almost, Aristarchus of Samos wasn't born until 310 BC but Anaxagoras had similar ideas around 450 BC.

From what I found, Anaxagoras did not believe stars were the same as the sun, and had no idea of extreme distances. He thought the sun was a red hot metallic ball, and that stars were heated fragments ejected from earth, with distance not specified. He also believed the earth was flat.

I do know that William Herschel proposed this (that stars were like the sun, only very distant), even deducing the shape of the milky way, proposing nebulae were composed of stars, and that distant stars would have planets that may have life. At the time, in the UK at least, these ideas were all considered new and radical.
 
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PAllen
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TL;DR Summary: The stars at night are very distant suns.This must have been a great leap in imagination.

The first person to realize the night sky is filled with stars similar to our sun was a great leap in imagination. Cassini in 1672 measured the sun distance by parallax measurement of Mars so I assume he knew.
I do not believe Cassini had any idea of the nature and distance of stars.
But you didn't have to know the solar distance to speculate that the stars were more distant suns. A sun-centered solar system is helpful. Did Copernicus speculate on this? Did Galileo suggest this? A sun centered solar system was contrary to the Church teaching at the time. I would think that there are thousands of suns would be equally disruptive.
It appears to me the reverse. Knowledge of order of distances in the solar system seems to have long predated speculation that stars were the same as the sun and might have their own planets
 
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PAllen
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This dates back at least to Aristarchus of Samos 450BC

=>See @glappkaeft #3 for correction !
This appears to be true, unlike the claim about anaxagoras. So I go with this as the best candidate so far. Note also, that before this speculation, aristarchus worked out estimates of solar system distances, and adopted a heliocentric model. Thus, though maybe forgotten or ignored for a long time, his discovery path followed the pattern of first understand the solar system, then you begin to speculate about stars.
 
  • #8
Klystron
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Although primarily an oral tradition with some support from ancient lithographs and cave paintings, some Native American (First People) folk stories include distant suns. Translation problems abound exacerbated by filtering native folklore through European religious interpretation.

I was taught that both 'invader' tribes such as Lakota and established agricultural communities such as the Ree compared the Sun to a large dense fire, a source of light and warmth, and the fixed stars as similar but distant suns.
 

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