Ancient Views of the Stars

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Ancient Views of
the Stars
• Humans have long been fascinated
by stars, and the observation and
cataloging of stars was important to
many early societies.
Egyptian
• Star table
from the
ceiling of the
tomb of
Ramses VI
•
(Source:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lep
sius-228-III-ramsèsVI-détail.jpg)
http://members.westnet.com.au/Gary-David-Thompson/page11-18.html
Part of Egyptian coffin lid showing two Egyptian astronomer's
assistants and hieroglyphic list of decan stars and their positions.
Babylonian
• A tablet from the
Enuma Anu Enlil text,
containing 21 years
of astronomical
observations of
Venus made in the
first millenium BCE.
•
(Source:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Venus_Tablet_of_A
mmisaduqa.jpg)
Mayan
The Maya had
an almanac that
displayed the full
cycle of Venus.
They counted
five sets of 584
days, that is
2,920 days,
approximately 8
years or 5
repetitions of the
Venus cycle.
Dresden Codex
http://www.michielb.nl/maya/venus.html
Greece
Anaximander’s view of the cosmos
(610-546 BCE)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anaximander
Greece (?)
• Ptolemy,
a Roman
citizen of
Egypt
who
wrote in
Greek
Greece (?)
• Ptolemy’s
Almagest
contained
a catalogue
of stars,
1028 stars
associated
with 48
different
groupings.
•
(Source:
http://www.ibibli
o.org/expo/vatica
n.exhibit/exhibit/
dmathematics/ima
ges/math09a.jpg)
Greece (?)
• In Ptolemy’s universe,
each planet, including
the sun orbited the
Earth in a fixed,
circular orbit.
• The stars orbited in a
fixed, circular orbit just
beyond Saturn, and
beyond the stars was
the realm of God.
•
(Source:
http://zebu.uoregon.edu/2003/hum3
99/cop2.jpg)
Muslim
• An astronomical
observatory
•
(Source:
http://www.muslimheritage.com/)
Muslim
• Astronomical table
showing Sun, Moon,
and Planets by Ibn alShatir
•
(Source:
http://www.muslimheritage.com/)
Muslim
• Astronomical
calculations from an
Arabic translation of the
Almagest by Ishaq bin
Hunayn (830-910) and
revised by Thabit bin
Qurra (836-901).
•
(Source:
http://www.muslimheritage.com/)
Muslim
Muhammad
Salih Tahtawi
of Sindh
headed the
task of
creating a
massive,
seamless
celestial globe
using a secret
wax casting
method in the
Mughal
Empire,
completed in
the year 1631.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_astronomy
China
• Tang
Dynasty
star map
from
about 700,
found in
the caves
at
Dunhuang
•
(Source:
http://en.wikipedi
a.org/wiki/File:Du
nhuang_star_map.
jpg)
China
A star map with a cylindrical projection. Su
Song's star maps represent the oldest existent
ones in printed form (1092 CE).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_astronomy
But, where do the stars come from?
• Six wives (Pleiades cluster) ate wild onions
that gave them skunk breath. The Husbands
(Hyades cluster) threw them out of their huts.
When the wives went up into the sky to live,
the lonely husbands followed but never
caught them.
From the Mono peoples of the Sierra Nevadas
http://web.archive.org/web/19981203122318/http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~skywise/legends.html#Six Wives
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleiades_(star_cluster)
The Pleiades
• Back when the sky was completely dark there
was a chief with two sons, a younger son, One
Who Walks All Over the Sky, and an older son,
Walking About Early. The younger son was sad
to see the sky always so dark so he made a
mask out of wood and pitch (the Sun) and lit it
on fire. Each day he travels across the sky. At
night he sleeps below the horizon and when
he snores sparks fly from the mask and make
the stars. The older brother became jealous.
To impress their father he smeared fat and
charcoal on his face (the Moon) and makes his
own path across the sky.
• From the Tsimshian peoples of the Pacific
Northwest
http://web.archive.org/web/19981203122318/http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~skywise/legends.html#Six Wives
So, what are the stars used for?
• Calendars
• Navigation
• Religious ritual
Genesis 1:14 God said,
"Let there be lights in the
firmament of the heavens
to divide the day from the
night; and let them be for
signs and seasons, and for
days and years."
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tycho_instrument_sextant_mounting_19.jpg

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