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Ancient History of Astronomy
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Ancient History of Astronomy

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 When did mankind first become interested in the science of astronomy? With the advent of modern computer technology (mid-20th century)

When did mankind first become interested in the science of astronomy? With the advent of modern computer technology (mid-20th century)

With the development of the theory of relativity (early 20th century)

With the invention of the telescope (~ A.D. 1600)

During the times of the ancient greeks (~ 400 300 B.C.)

In the stone and bronze ages (several thousand years B.C.)

Slide 3

Already in the stone and bronze ages, human cultures realized the cyclic nature of motions in the sky.

Already in the stone and bronze ages, human cultures realized the cyclic nature of motions in the sky.

Monuments dating back to ~ 3000 B.C. show alignments with astronomical significance.

Those monuments were probably used as calendars or even to predict eclipses.

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Stonehenge

Stonehenge

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Stonehenge Constructed 3000  1800 B.C. in Great Britain

Stonehenge Constructed 3000 1800 B.C. in Great Britain

Alignments with locations of sunset, sunrise, moonset and moonrise at summer and winter solstices

Probably used as calendar

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Big Horn Medicine Wheel (Wyoming)

Big Horn Medicine Wheel (Wyoming)

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Other Examples around the World

Other Examples around the World

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 Why is it so difficult to find out about the state of astronomical knowledge of bronze-age civilizations? Written documents from that time are in a language that we dont understand.

Why is it so difficult to find out about the state of astronomical knowledge of bronze-age civilizations? Written documents from that time are in a language that we dont understand.

There are no written documents documents from that time.

Different written documents about their astronomical knowledge often contradict each other.

Due to the Earths precession, they had a completely different view of the sky than we have today.

They didnt have any astronomical knowledge at all.

Slide 9

Models were based on unproven first principles, believed to be obvious and were not questioned:

Models were based on unproven first principles, believed to be obvious and were not questioned:

1. Geocentric Universe: The Earth is at the Center of the Universe.

2. Perfect Heavens: The motions of all celestial bodies can be described by motions involving objects of perfect shape, i.e., spheres or circles.

Slide 10

Other Examples around the World

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Other Examples around the World

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Epicycles Introduced to explain retrograde (westward) motion of planets The ptolemaic system was considered the standard model of the Universe until the Copernican Revolution

Epicycles

Introduced to explain retrograde (westward) motion of planets The ptolemaic system was considered the standard model of the Universe until the Copernican Revolution

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