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Alphonso X

This painting shows Alphonso X reading

Every time I pick up The Cosmic Perspective to do the assigned reading, I end up learning something new and exciting. This unit, while I was reading Chapter 3 “The Science of Astronomy” one particular part struck me. The textbook mentions a Spanish monarch named Alphonso X who lived from 1221 to 1284. Alphonso X had complied the most modern tables of planetary motion based on the Ptolemaic model until Copernicus’s revolution nearly 200 years later. Astronomers knew Alphonso’s tables were flawed but many people were unwilling to take on the arduous task of fixing the underlying theories. Alphonso was credited with saying “If I had been present at the creation, I would have recommended a simpler design for the universe (64).” This quote caught my interest because it highlights just how incredible it is that humanity knows even anything about space. We are so small in the universe but are able to use our brains and empirical information over ages and ages. Especially considering how challenging it must have been to understand the universe while lacking the modern technology we have now. This quote also inspires me to think about all that we will learn about space in the future.


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