Mesopotamian Astronomy & Astrology: Astronomical Chronology
The Mythology of the Constellations Most ancient cultures saw pictures in the stars of the night sky. The earliest known efforts to catalogue the stars date to cuneiform texts and artifacts dating back roughly years. These remnants, found in the valley of the Euphrates River, suggest that the ancients observing the heavens saw the lion, the bull, and the scorpion in the stars. The constellations as we know them today are undoubtedly very different from those first few–our night sky is a compendium of images from a number of different societies, both ancient and modern. By far, though, we owe the greatest debt to the mythology of the ancient Greeks and Romans. The earliest references to the mythological significance of the Greek constellations may be found in the works of Homer, which probably date to the 7th century B. In the Iliad, for instance, Homer describes the creation of Achilleus’s shield by the craftsman god Hephaistos: On it he made the earth, and sky, and sea, the weariless sun and the moon waxing full, and all the constellations that crown the heavens, Pleiades and Hyades, the mighty Orion and the Bear, which men also call by the name of Wain: At the time of Homer, however, most of the constellations were not associated with any particular myth, hero, or god. They were instead known simply as the objects or animals which they represented–the Lyre, for instance, or the Ram.
See Article History Phase, in astronomy , any of the varying appearances of a celestial body as different amounts of its disk are seen from Earth , ordinarily to be illuminated by the Sun. The Moon displays four main phases: New moon occurs when the Moon is between Earth and the Sun, and thus the side of the Moon that is in shadow faces Earth. Full moon occurs when the Moon is on the opposite side of Earth from the Sun, and thus the side of the Moon that is illuminated faces Earth.
First and last quarter , in which half the Moon appears illuminated, occur when the Moon is at a right angle with respect to the Sun when viewed from Earth. Earth, as seen from the Moon, shows the same phases in opposite order; e.
Astronomy is the oldest of the natural sciences, dating back to antiquity, with its origins in the religious, mythological, cosmological, calendrical, and astrological beliefs and practices of prehistory: vestiges of these are still found in astrology, a discipline long interwoven with public and governmental astronomy.
Coordinate Systems If you look out from an empty field into a dark sky, you will get the impression that you are standing on a flat plate, enclosed by a giant dome. Depth perception fails us for the distant objects we see in the sky. This creates the appearance that all of the stars have the same distance. The stars appear to move together across the sky during the night, rising in the east and setting in the west, as if they are affixed to the inside of a dome.
Because of this, many ancient civilizations believed that a dome really did enclose the Earth. Only a few centuries ago astronomers came to realize that the stars are actually very far away, scattered throughout the Milky Way Galaxy, rather than attached to the inside of a vast sphere.
Virgo How did the constellations get their names? Most constellation names are Latin in origin, dating from the Roman empire, but their meanings often originated in the distant past of human civilization. Scorpius, for instance, was given its name from the Latin word for scorpion, but ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs from before B. Orion, the hunter, bears a Greek name, but had been seen as a hunter-hero figure since the times of ancient Babylon.
Jul 05, · In the second scenario (Valmiki or Vyasa noting down astronomy details in their writing of histories of their own times), the events described can be dated to 6th millennium BCE (Mahabharata) or 13th millennium BCE (Ramayana) based on numerous astronomy observations of the text.
Biography Name While there is a tendency to misspell his name as “Aryabhatta” by analogy with other names having the ” bhatta ” suffix, his name is properly spelled Aryabhata: This corresponds to CE, and implies that he was born in Similarly, the fact that several commentaries on the Aryabhatiya have come from Kerala has been used to suggest that it was Aryabhata’s main place of life and activity; however, many commentaries have come from outside Kerala, and the Aryasiddhanta was completely unknown in Kerala.
Chandra Hari has argued for the Kerala hypothesis on the basis of astronomical evidence. His major work, Aryabhatiya, a compendium of mathematics and astronomy, was extensively referred to in the Indian mathematical literature and has survived to modern times. The mathematical part of the Aryabhatiya covers arithmetic , algebra , plane trigonometry , and spherical trigonometry. It also contains continued fractions , quadratic equations , sums-of-power series, and a table of sines.
The Arya-siddhanta, a lost work on astronomical computations, is known through the writings of Aryabhata’s contemporary, Varahamihira , and later mathematicians and commentators, including Brahmagupta and Bhaskara I. This work appears to be based on the older Surya Siddhanta and uses the midnight-day reckoning, as opposed to sunrise in Aryabhatiya.
It also contained a description of several astronomical instruments:
History of Astronomy
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Home Astronomy The defining questions for Astronomy and Astrophysics research are: How did the universe begin, how did it evolve from the soup of elementary particles into the structures seen today, and what is its destiny? How do galaxies form and evolve? How do stars form and evolve? How do planets form and evolve? Is there life elsewhere in the universe?
These questions are all part of the fabric of science, cutting across traditional disciplines and connecting the universe from the smallest to the largest scales. Addressing them requires interactions of astronomy with many other disciplines, including physics, mathematics, computer science, and biology. Astronomy is an ancient scientific discipline, dating back to BC when astronomers were aware of only six of the nine planets that orbit the Sun and without having the knowledge that the stars were like the Sun.
Some of the key tasks for modern astronomy and astrophysics are: Map the galaxies, gas, and dark matter in the universe, and survey the stars and planets in the Galaxy. Use the universe as a unique laboratory to test the known laws of physics in regimes that are not accessible on Earth and to search for new physics. Develop a conceptual framework that accounts for all that astronomers have observed.
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Astronomical Art” in Astronomy, July , p. An overview and sampler. Artists’ Journey Through the Cosmos. Hartmann, William, et al. In the Stream of Stars: Over color paintings and text by artists in both countries.
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See Article History Astronomy, science that encompasses the study of all extraterrestrial objects and phenomena. Until the invention of the telescope and the discovery of the laws of motion and gravity in the 17th century, astronomy was primarily concerned with noting and predicting the positions of the Sun , Moon , and planets , originally for calendrical and astrological purposes and later for navigational uses and scientific interest. The catalog of objects now studied is much broader and includes, in order of increasing distance, the solar system , the stars that make up the Milky Way Galaxy , and other, more distant galaxies.
With the advent of scientific space probes, Earth also has come to be studied as one of the planets, though its more-detailed investigation remains the domain of the Earth sciences. NASA The scope of astronomy Since the late 19th century astronomy has expanded to include astrophysics , the application of physical and chemical knowledge to an understanding of the nature of celestial objects and the physical processes that control their formation, evolution, and emission of radiation.
In addition, the gases and dust particles around and between the stars have become the subjects of much research. Study of the nuclear reactions that provide the energy radiated by stars has shown how the diversity of atoms found in nature can be derived from a universe that, following the first few minutes of its existence, consisted only of hydrogen , helium , and a trace of lithium. Concerned with phenomena on the largest scale is cosmology , the study of the evolution of the universe.
Astrophysics has transformed cosmology from a purely speculative activity to a modern science capable of predictions that can be tested. Its great advances notwithstanding, astronomy is still subject to a major constraint:
Astronomy Calendar of Celestial Events
Astronomy Calendar of Celestial Events for Calendar Year This astronomy calendar of celestial events contains dates for notable celestial events including moon phases, meteor showers, eclipses, oppositions, conjunctions, and other interesting events. Most of the astronomical events on this calendar can be seen with unaided eye, although some may require a good pair of binoculars for best viewing. Many of these events and dates used here were obtained from the U.
Events on the calendar are organized by date and each is identified with an astronomy icon as outlined below.
StarDate is the public education and outreach arm of the University of Texas McDonald Observatory. Our radio program airs daily on almost stations. And our popular bimonthly astronomy magazine is the perfect skywatching companion for anyone interested in astronomical events and space exploration.
See my copyright notice for fair use practices. Select the photographs to display the original source in another window. Links to external sites will be displayed in another window. Terrestrial planets have hard surfaces that can be re-shaped by several different processes: Impact Cratering There are still small chunks of rock orbiting the Sun left over from the formation of the solar system. Some of them have orbits that cross the orbits of the planets and moons.