I'm interested in knowing more about the history around lunar tables and calculation of moon phases.

When did we have first (reliable) calculations of moon phases and first (reliable) lunar tables? When did they become widespread?

Reading through History of astronomy (Wiki), it appears that we've had some calculations 200-100 BC at least (Greece), but maybe even earlier (the Maya).

Edit To explain a bit better: I'm trying to find an answer to the question: At which point in history, were we able to tell the exact day on which moon phases will occur, for the next 2 months (for example)? Reliable meaning that most of the time (let's say 90%) the predictions were correct.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Can't you just count days forward? What is reliable to you? How far into the future does the prediction need to be? $\endgroup$ Commented May 6, 2022 at 5:04
  • $\begingroup$ @planetmaker thanks for the follow-up questions. I've updated the question. $\endgroup$
    – Haris Osmanagić
    Commented May 6, 2022 at 7:44
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    $\begingroup$ The Babylonian Astronomical diaries span over 7 centuries of nightly observations of the skies (weather permitting), and Babylonian data was one of the sources used in Ptolemy's Almagest. That Wikipedia article is brief, but there are more details in the external link to livius.org. The Babylonians knew lunar cycles well enough to predict eclipses. $\endgroup$
    – PM 2Ring
    Commented May 6, 2022 at 8:29
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    $\begingroup$ @planetmaker Perhaps. ;) But as James K mentions, knowledge of the period of the lunar cycle is probably far older. The Ishango bone or the Lebombo bone might be lunar calendars. The former is around 20,000 years old, the latter is over 43,000 years old. OTOH, modern astronomy has more or less directly inherited the Babylonian / Chaldean data and we still use their base 60 system of subdividing angles and time, as I mentioned here. $\endgroup$
    – PM 2Ring
    Commented May 6, 2022 at 17:14
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    $\begingroup$ I do not know who "we" are, I never had this. $\endgroup$
    – markvs
    Commented May 10, 2022 at 10:58


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