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Historical Astronomers in Context!

Isaac Newton (1643-1727)

Sir Isaac Newton was born on January 5, 1643 in Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire, England to Hannah Ayscough and Isaac Newton Sr. During his lifetime he made enormous contributions of the field of physics, math and astronomy. He invented calculus jointly with Gottfried Leibniz (another famous mathematician), and created the theory of gravity. This work in the laws of motion and gravity formed the early beginnings of modern physics that we still use today. He died in Kensington, London, England in his sleep on March 21, 1727.

In art, the style of architecture that was gaining popularity was English Baroque that occurred after the Great London fire in 1666. Since the fire had flattened some of the landscape, architectures of this time had a blank slate to work with. This style was used to display power and was mainly used by rulers and the Church.

William Penn (1644-1718)

Born to a wealthy Anglican family in Tower Hill, London on October 14, 1644, William Penn was important because he was one of the original group of Quakers (who were facing religious persecution in England at this time) to draft a plan to settle in New Jersey. His democratic proposals for this settlement were some ideas that influenced the U.S. Constitution which included freedom of religion, fair elections, no unjust imprisonment, and fair and free trials by jury. He would then go on to become one of the founders of Pennsylvania through familial debt owed by English King Charles II. He dies in July 30, 1718 in Berkshire, UK due to a stroke.

All in all, I think the contextualization of Isaac Newton being alive at the same time as the colonization of America was very eye opening to me. I also find it interesting that some of the famous astronomers also helped each other; I think I always thought that “there cannot be two great people alive at once,” so I thought they didn’t live at the same time or something.


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