Astronomical Undertakings Legend and Legitimacy in Man’s Search for Another Earth
Since ancient time, mankind has wondered whether a second Earth might exist in the universe - a planet that supports life like our own. Ancient Greek philosophers believed that the moon could be such a place. The search for that second Earth, however, was spurred in 1609 by two events. Early that year, Johannes Kepler, a follower of Copernicus, published his New Astronomy outlining the laws of planetary motion. Later that same year, Galileo built a three-powered telescope and gazed at the moon as a different world covered with mountains and valleys. At approximately the same time, astronomy, as a study, was being separated from astrology. Astronomy became real science and astrology devolved into a pseudo-science. Oeser's contention is that at this point, the search for the second earth became the driving factor in the growth of space research. This research was bolstered by man's own imagination, too. In the early 1800s, the New York Sun ran a series of articles, which turned out to be a hoax, detailing life and civilization on the moon. Jules Verne wrote From the Earth to the Moon in 1864. In the early 1900s, H.G. Wells published The First Men in the Moon. When man finally landed on the moon and discovered that no life existed, the search did not stop but the destination changed. Our space odyssey could lead us to discover life on Mars. Our trek could lead us to other galaxies abundant with life. Our science couldn't stand still but continue to reach out to touch the stars. We are compelled to find other like us in the vast universe.