Before we consider exploring our galaxy and the universe, we must first and foremost place our home, the earth and the solar system in this vast cosmos. The knowledge we have acquired in astronomy, both in cosmology, astrophysics and bioastronomy, is the culmination of many centuries of reflection, trial and error, and intellectual revolutions. This is how the history of astronomy allows us to appreciate the evolution of our representation of the world.
We can not ignore the dependence of astronomy, philosophy, theology, technology and the social life of men to only present contemporary problems. Our culture will win and in any case the physical issues of today were still the responsibility of philosophy in the last century!
Historically, astronomy encountered many “epistemological” obstacles and as a result only slowly managed to grasp the reality of the world, very different from the “truth” of sacred books.
For thousands of years, philosophical or political doctrines, religious precepts or simply the law of common sense slowed down the emergence of new representations of the world, from the Far East to the West. Politicians and high priests gave more credits to the most skilful philosophers than to the creators of new ideas. Such shackles eventually dulled scientists but their struggle was long and sometimes dangerous. The fight took place with ideas and evidence and above all a lot of patience.
In contrast to this current, Hindu, Arab and pre-Columbian cities developed an observational astronomy that was far ahead of European culture. Unfortunately none of them turned into physical science. Today only the remains of their temples and some instruments of observation remain. Their cultures, however, bequeathed us two essential inventions: zero and Arabic numerals.