CHINA 211 Cosmology

The Chinese have been recording celestial events since at least the time of the Shang Dynasty (ca. 1600 Bc-ca. 1046 bc). The evidence for this has been markings made on oracle bones, which were fragments of mammalian bones or tortoise carapaces that were subjected to heat. The paths made by the resulting cracks were read as answers to questions inscribed on the bone asking about current or future events. Some of these bones have been dated to ca. 1300 bc and recorded stars, solar eclipses, and...

Mesopotamian constellations and the zodiac

The names of constellations were being recorded on clay tablets as far back as the time of the Sumerians, around 3000 bc. Some of these names are familiar to us today the bull (Taurus), the lion (Leo) and the scorpion (Scorpius). This interest in forming constellations may have reflected their desire to organize the sky in a mythologically meaningful manner, particularly the area through which traveled the Sun, Moon, and planets, which we now call the ecliptic. In this way, a reference point...

Figures

L.l1 View of several northern 1.21 A plate produced by Doppelmayr for Homann Publications, ca. 1720 4 1.3 An image from the first American edition of Flammarion's Popular Astronomy 6 1.4 A figure of an armillary 1.51 View of the north 2.1 The Chinese northern circumpolar 2.2 A diagram of the 28 Chinese lunar 2.3 The 12 Chinese constellations of the 2.4 Drawing of a ceiling painting from a temple at 2.51 Chromolithograph of an Egyptian papyrus Judgment of the Dead'' 31 2.6 A pull-out plate of...

EGYPT 231 Cosmology

The ancient Egyptians have had a civilized society for millennia, and their mythological system and views of an afterlife were major components of this society. In fact, the sky figured prominently in this mythology. The sky goddess, Nut, was often described in papyrus texts and portrayed on coffin lids and temple ceilings as a naked woman, sometimes arching over her consort Geb, who was the Earth deity. Ra, the Sun god, was frequently shown as entering the mouth of Nut every sunset, traversing...

Contents

xv xvii xxiii List of abbreviations and 1 What is a star 1.1 Constellation 1.2 Cosmological 1.3 What makes these images 1.4 Circles in the 1.4.1 The Sun-Earth orientation 1.4.2 The armillary sphere 1.5 Directions in the sky 10 1.6 Projections of star maps 12 1.7 Manuscripts and prints 13 15 2 Non-European cosmology and constellation development 17 18 2.1.2 Time and the calendar 19 2.1.3 Chinese constellations 20 2.1.4 Chinese influences in Korea and Japan 23 2.1.5 Outside influences on 2.2.1...

Egyptian constellations

Southern Circumpolar Constellations

The Egyptians developed their own constellation system based on important gods and animals in their mythology, although it was not as extensive as in other cultures. For example, historian and mathematician Hugh Thurston (1996) mentions an Egyptian catalog of the universe dating to about 1100 bc that lists only five constellations, two of which are similar to our Orion and Ursa Major. Of course, if one includes the decan star groups, then this number jumps by 36. Figure 2.6. A pull-out plate of...

Circles In The Sky 141 The Sun Earth orientation

Since ancient times, people have identified regions on the Earth based on the apparent location of the Sun in the heavens. When looking at the sky throughout the year at a given time each day (say, noon), the Sun appears to gradually increase in elevation day by day to a certain height, then decrease day by day to a certain depth, and so on. We now know that this apparent rising and falling is due to the fact that the Earth revolves around the Sun in a year, and because the Earth's axis is...

Cosmological Maps

A particularly rich example of a cosmological star map is shown in Figure 1.2, which was produced by Johann Doppelmayr and appeared in an atlas from the famous Homann publishing house around 1720. In a sense, this beautiful plate depicts the state of astronomical knowledge in the early 1700s. In the center is a spectacular representation of the Sun-centered heliocentric world introduced by the great Polish astronomer, Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543 ad). The view here includes descriptions from...

Star Maps

University of California San Francisco USA SPRINGER-PRAXIS BOOKS IN POPULAR ASTRONOMY SUBJECT ADVISORY EDITOR John Mason, M.Sc., B.Sc., Ph.D. ISBN 978-0-387-71668-8 Springer Berlin Heidelberg New York Springer is part of Springer-Science + Business Media (springer.com) Library of Congress Control Number 2007926829 Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of research or private study, or criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act...

Astrology In Ancient Times

Indian Astronomy Constellation

Although existing clay tablets tell us that the Sumerians were the first to record the names of constellations, regular observations of the Moon and planets began with the Babylonians. For example, the Venus tablet, which was made around 1600 bc, contains 59 omens grouped into 8-year cycles based on the first and last appearances of Venus in the sky. Thus, by this time the Babylonians were observing and recording events in the sky, recognizing the periodicity of some of these events and using...

Projections Of Star Maps

The Earth closely approximates a sphere in shape, which is why terrestrial globes produce accurate depictions of the relative shapes and locations of countries and other geographical features. Since maps printed in a book or a loose print are two-dimensional representations of such three-dimensional features, their accuracy depends upon the way they are projected onto the surface of the paper, vellum, or other flat medium. There are relative trade-offs in doing this. Some projection systems...

The armillary sphere

Research Engraved Engraved

In order to better visualize in three dimensions the relationship between the Earth perceived as the center of the universe and the sky around it, the ancients created an instrument called the armillary sphere. There is evidence that Eratosthenes used an armillary sphere in the 3rd Century bc to determine the angle in the sky between the celestial equator and the ecliptic. Scholars at the great library in Alexandria also used this instrument to visualize the heavens, compute the coordinates of...

Chinese constellations

Tang Chinese Constellation Map

The Chinese oriented themselves to the north celestial pole, around which all the stars revolved. Our current pole star, Alpha Ursae Minoris (i.e., the brightest star in the constellation of Ursa Minor, in which the Little Dipper is located) was not the pole star to the ancient Chinese due to precession, but other stars received this honor. For example, in the 2nd Millennium bc, Alpha Draconis was the pole star, and Ho et al. (2000) has calculated that a faint star in our constellation of...

Constellation Maps

Lyra Constellation Map

An example of a constellation type of star map is shown in Figure 1.1. This plate is from a celestial atlas first published by Fortin in 1776 and shows the sky around the central constellation of Cygnus the swan. Our eye is first drawn to the beautiful constellation images, here shown in vivid color. In some star atlases, the color was original, but in most cases such as this one color was added later to enhance the beauty and decorative quality of the plates. Further perusal of this plate...