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8. Telescopes did exist, and so did astronomy, but people were just beginning to come to grips with the idea that the stars were not fixed onto a transparent rotating surface several hundred meters above the earth. The scale of the solar system was known, more or less, to a few astronomers, but the idea that the sun might be a star was not. Galaxies were utterly unknown. The "universe" consisted of the sun and the planets out to Jupiter -- that was it.


This isn't quite true. Most learned people of the period knew the stars were very far away.

We even knew the distance to the moon, and the circumference of the earth by about 235 B.C.

http://www.cartage.org.lb/en/themes/Sciences/Physics/aboutphysics/physicstimeline/1799/1799.htm
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