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Questions tagged [astronomy]

For questions about the history of astronomy, the science which studies celestial objects like the stars and planets. General questions about astronomy are off-topic but might be asked on Astronomy Stack Exchange.

5
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1answer
131 views

How would ancient Sumerian astronomers predict length of the next lunar month?

I know we can do these predictions with extreme degree of precision now, using our extensive knowledge of celestial orbiting patterns and principles. With Sumerian civilization being one of the ...
6
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6answers
404 views

When did people first recognize the estimate sizes/scales and nature of celestial bodies?

In the ancient times, planets and stars were just thought to be some distant lights; various beliefs and theories ascribed them various properties and meanings, but the concept of planets being ...
16
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4answers
3k views

When did we know the color/appearance of all the planets in our solar system?

When did we discover the color/appearance of all the planets in our solar system? Was this process spread out over a long period of time?
12
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1answer
355 views

Did any Chinese scholars propose a heliocentric model?

After this related question, I now want to ask about the heliocentric model. Did any Chinese scholars propose a heliocentric model of the universe? The time period I'm interested is any time before ...
18
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3answers
649 views

Before European influence circa 1600, did any Chinese believe the Earth was spherical, and did they ever try to measure it?

The Pythagorans, Aristotle, and Eratosthenese believed the Earth was spherical. Eratosthenes made a measure based on shadows at two cities on the same meridian. An Indian mathematician, Aryabhata, ...
4
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1answer
419 views

How is the accuracy of the Maya Calendar measured?

It is taken as a fact in many books and specialized publications that the Maya calendrical system - the Haab' and the Tzolk'in - was more accurate and closer to the real solar year than the Gregorian ...
4
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0answers
91 views

What is this griffin-like creature labelling a lunar mansion in the Zubdat al-Tawarikh?

While looking for astronomy-related things I found out about this Turkish history manuscript from 1583 called the Zubdat al-Tawarikh or "History of the World". One of the first things in it is an ...
2
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1answer
138 views

When and where did the myth about solar eclipse affecting pregnant women start?

Evidence for presence of myth - https://www.lifecell.in/mom-and-baby/pregnancy/care/eclipse-harmful-pregnant-women-myth-or-truth In India, eclipse is linked to many dos and don’ts for everybody as ...
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1answer
224 views

What Time of Day Was Hitler's Opening Speech of the 1936 Summer Olympics?

In the movie Contact, aliens from the Vega system contact humans by retransmitting Hitler's August 1st opening speech of the 1936 Summer Olympics, popularly held to be the first radio transmission to ...
2
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1answer
345 views

In Ancient Cultures - How was a New Moon identified when it can never be seen?

In some ancient cultures, a Lunar Calendar was utilized and the "New Moon" is considered the "First of the Month". In ancient Semitic cultures, Assyria, Persia, Akkadia, Israel, etc - how was the "...
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3answers
320 views

Which astronomical events have been the most important in dating historical events? [closed]

Astronomical events are used to help date historical events. (Wikipedia - Astronomical chronology) Which are the most important for this? For example, Josephus recorded a lunar eclipse that occurred ...
3
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1answer
135 views

Accuracy of Ancient Dates of Persian/Middle East Based on Astronomy

What astronomical events have helped determine the accuracy of historical dates of Middle Eastern (specifically Persian) events? Some examples of Middle Eastern/Persian events could be the year a king ...
9
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1answer
407 views

Why did Galileo decide to flame Fr. Grassi over the latter's theory of comets, making sure to lose the Jesuits’ support?

Grassi's Disputatio was a rather tame work, which presented his theory of circularly orbiting comets in a non-definitive fashion. It should have pleased Galileo, given his prejudice in strictly ...
2
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1answer
473 views

How did Vasco da Gama know about the Southern Cross?

It is said that the precession cycle of the Earth's axis takes about 26,000 years to complete. It is also said that the ancient Greeks could see Crux (aka the Southern Cross) from where they lived. It ...
8
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2answers
472 views

Did contemporary scholars draw a connection between Great Schism and Crab Nebula Supernova (1054 A.D.)?

Did any contemporary scholars draw a connection between the occurrence of the Great Schism and the Crab Nebula Supernova, which both occurred around the middle of 1054 A.D.? I already asked at ...
9
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4answers
475 views

When did scientists first postulate that Earth's atmosphere might have an upper limit?

In plenty of myths and stories from ancient (and not-so-ancient) history, people are able to fly or climb all the way up to the "dome of the sky," breathing all the way. But even once science had ...
27
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6answers
9k views

What was the first Solar Eclipse that was demonstrably predicted in advance?

There is a famous story going back to Herodotus according to which Thales of Miletus predicted the solar eclipse of May 28, 585 BC, which interrupted a battle. Given that we have not a single ...
3
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1answer
77 views

Is there a general term for epicycles, deferents, and eccentrics in Ptolemaic astronomy? [closed]

According to Ptolemy's (c. 150 CE) account of the motions of planets, planets moved in circular paths ("epicycles") around center points that in turn moved around the center of the earth along a path ...
31
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3answers
10k views

What was the internal Soviet reaction to the moon landing?

The Soviet Union was a famously restrictive place when it came to news and ideological spin, and obviously their attitude toward the United States was less than supportive and warm. The Space Race ...
10
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1answer
240 views

A world in the moon?

In the 1600s, the nature of the moon was a matter of debate. Papers arguing for the modern concept of the moon were being printed, such as The Discovery of a World in the Moone, 1638. The phrase a ...
4
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0answers
202 views

How come Week days in India match with Western system? [closed]

How come Week days in India synchronize with the week days in Western countries? When did this happen?
5
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2answers
543 views

Did Ancient Egyptians in the 2nd millennium BC practice Astrology?

I'm aware that Ancient Egyptians did chart stars and have a relatively robust understanding of astronomy for the time. However, did they (say, in the 2nd millenium BC) practice astrology, such that ...
10
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1answer
3k views

How could ancient people determine the winter solstice was occurring?

How could astronomers in the ancient world determine that the winter solstice was occurring? According to whoever edited the Wikipedia article on the winter solstice, it's too hard for modern ...
21
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1answer
24k views

Who discovered first that the Moon does not have its own light?

Who (and when) discovered first that the Moon does not have its own light?
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6answers
4k views

How accurately could ancient astronomers find latitude and longitude?

In classical times, say, 200 BC to 400 AD, how accurately could an astronomer determine their latitude and longitude? Could they find their position to the nearest degree? Minute? Second? I'm ...