Questions tagged [archaeoastronomy]

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1answer
71 views

When and how was it discovered that the sun was in different positions depending upon longitude?

It seems to me that the ancient Greeks knew that geographic location affected the apparent position of the sun in sky but given the lack of rapid travel or communications or reliable clocks, how was ...
1
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1answer
91 views

What is the historical basis for the length of a sidereal year?

It is understandable that the length of a solar year can be found out using the time of solstices. But how did they find the length of a year with respect to the stars?
5
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1answer
97 views

Spirals as calendrical representations

A recent work proposed that the double spiral motif found at Newgrange (ca. 3200 BC) is a calendrical representation. Looking south the northern peoples observed that the arc traced by the sun widens ...
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1answer
106 views

Did knowledge of astronomy spread among Indo-European civilizations in antiquity?

Early civilizations of india, Greece, Babylon, China and Egypt have progressed in astronomy. Is there any shared knowledge among them and if any how can we find out?
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5answers
370 views

How did ancients differenciate between inner and outer planets?

It seems to me that ancients (greeks at least) knew that in their geocentric model Venus and Mercury were closer to them than the sun, and correctly differenciated inner (Mercury and Venus) from outer ...
3
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1answer
350 views

Did the Mayan's really predict the solar eclipse?

The Mayan's astronomical observations were outstanding given the tools they had, and investigations of the Dresden codex published by Harvey and Victoria Bricker in 1983 predicted the July 11th, 1991 ...
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2answers
972 views

How did Ptolemy calculate the distance to the moon?

I've read somewhere that Hipparchus measured the distance to the Moon using the lunar and solar eclipse and obtained a value of around 67.3 Earth radii. It also says that soon after Ptolemy gave a ...
3
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1answer
125 views

When and why did the 'spiky star' appear as an image in art and science?

Telescope images of stars look like crosses, although they are point sources of light. Featureless dots. Diffraction along the vanes of the support structure that holds up their secondary mirror is ...
0
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0answers
70 views

What is the remarkable configuration of directions at 51° N?

A 2015 document from Stanford Solar Centre informs us that Stonehenge, The Goseck Circle and Majorville Medicine Wheel are on the same latitude (51° N.) with the Newgrange monument slightly to the ...
2
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1answer
275 views

Length of the year in Aztec/Maya calendar

In an old book of Prescott (died in 1859), The conquest of Mexico, the author described Aztec calendar with a year of 365 days. To compensate for the difference, every 52 years an additional 12.5 days ...
3
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1answer
183 views

What role did meteors and comets play in early astronomy?

Apart from the location, brightness and color of the stars themselves, astronomy obviously originated from an interest in transient phenomena against the fixed but rotating star sky. The rise and set ...
7
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2answers
302 views

Did Archimedes know about Callipus?

Various sources, such as Cicero's Republic state that Archimedes had made a machine consisting of glass spheres that represented the Eudoxian system of the world. Considering that Callipus died over ...
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4answers
596 views

Why did the ancients believe celestial matter was of a different type than terrestrial matter?

Why did the ancients believe celestial matter is of a totally different type than terrestrial matter? From a footnote in Christopher A. Decaen's The Thomist 68 (2004): 375-429 article "Aristotle's ...
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2answers
9k views

Origin of 360 degrees?

This is by far one of the most challenging and popular HSM questions on the Net. Proofs are, countless discussions about it in math forums. The answers only led to two theories, which Wikipedia does a ...
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5answers
4k views

Is there an astronomical reason behind the order for the names of days of the week?

The seven days of the week seems to be commonly named after celestial bodies. What I find curious is that all seven days apparently share the same names in both West and East. Sunday is, of course, ...