Who made the first map of the universe?

Maps of the stars are nearly as ancient as human culture itself; inscriptions describing the positions of stars and constellations appear on Egyptian temples, Babylonian tablets, and Chinese calendars produced thousands of years ago. By around 500 BC, Greek philosophers had begun to approach the mapping of the heavens in an almost modern fashion, making careful and repeated observations of the positions and motions of the stars and planets in an attempt to rationally explain the movements of the universe.

Credit for modern maps of the cosmos is often given to Harlow Shapley, who in 1917 published a map of the distribution of globular clusters and correctly concluded that our solar system was located a considerable distance from the center of our galaxy. Not long after, in 1924, Edwin Hubble was able to clearly resolve individual stars in other galaxies, and so was able to determine the distances to these “island universes” — paving the way for future astronomers who would map the universe.

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