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Create Your Account Already have an Account? Create Account. The Remarkable Science of Ancient Astronomy. Course No. Professor Bradley E. Share This Course. Choose a Format. Video Streaming Included Free. Audio version now exclusively on Audible. Get the audio course. What Will You Learn? The true, remarkable feats of ancient astronomers and why comets were more feared than eclipses.
Discover the most extraordinary artifact in all of ancient science. Learn about the probable nature of the Star of Bethlehem. Unveil the purpose of Stonehenge.
Reveal the origin of constellations. Find out why comets were more feared than eclipses. Among the astronomical marvels of the ancient world are some celebrated puzzles that have generated many theories: Stonehenge : This impressive prehistoric monument in southern England has an obvious alignment with sunrise on the summer solstice, but dozens of other celestial alignments have been suggested.
Are they chance or intentional? And was the summer solstice the real focus of rituals at the site? Great Pyramid of Giza : Ancient Egyptians built their largest pyramid oriented to the cardinal points—north, south, east, and west—with an accuracy of one-twentieth of a degree. How did they do it? This seeming contradiction is one of several astronomical problems with the passage, which may have found a recent surprising solution.
Antikythera mechanism : Discovered in aboard an ancient Roman shipwreck, this badly corroded bronze tool eventually proved to be an astonishingly versatile astronomical computer, arguably the most remarkable artifact in all of ancient science. Intriguing clues point to the identity of its designer. Solve Age-Old Mysteries of the Sky Professor Schaefer is a noted astrophysicist involved in cutting-edge research on the fate of the universe.
He particularly relishes working from scattered evidence to pinpoint when ancient observations and maps were made, including: Chinese constellations : The phenomenon called precession of the equinoxes is like a carbon-dating tool for ancient astronomy. Birthplace of Greek astronomy : Focusing on star lore surviving from a lost work by the Greek astronomer Eudoxus, Dr.
It turns out that he was almost surely using year-old data from Mesopotamia. Farnese Atlas : Atlas shoulders the celestial globe in this famous Roman copy of a vanished Hellenistic sculpture. Noting the implied positions of stars in the constellations, Professor Schaefer argues that the original must have utilized the long-lost star catalog of the great Greek astronomer Hipparchus.
Crucifixion of Jesus : The first sighting of the crescent Moon after new Moon marks the start of the month in the Jewish calendar. See the Heavens the Way the Ancients Did One of the rewards of studying the ancient world is witnessing how it has a direct bearing on our own time, for example in our inheritance of Greek philosophical ideas, Middle Eastern religions, and Roman political institutions.
Hide Full Description. Average 29 minutes each. Why were the motions of the Sun, Moon, and stars so important to ancient people? Investigate key astronomical directions noticed by all cultures. Then embark on your study of Stonehenge, seeing how it gave birth to the field of archaeoastronomy and to some very curious modern theories.
John Glenn Astronomy Park
In the popular mind, Stonehenge was built as a sophisticated astronomical calculator presided over by priestly astronomers called Druids. But is this view dating from the mids correct? Address the evidence, and survey the archaeological record to discover the most probable function of Stonehenge. Explore Neolithic tombs and monuments across Europe, discovering an array of alignments toward astronomical events. Start with two sites that are similar to Stonehenge in their clear orientation to the winter solstice: Maes Howe in the Orkney Islands, and Newgrange in Ireland.
Study the astronomical significance of Egypt's Great Pyramid. How did its builders achieve such phenomenal accuracy in the pyramid's alignment to the cardinal directions? Were its air shafts intended to point at stars of special importance? Also evaluate modern claims for the mystical power of pyramids. Travel to Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, where the Anasazi culture practiced sky-centered rituals a thousand years ago.
Look for evidence of their astronomical knowledge, examine their many sun daggers," and probe the controversial pictograph thought to depict the Crab Nebula supernova explosion in AD. Consider the astronomy-based world views of different ancient cultures and how they answered the three big questions: Where did the world come from? What is the nature of the universe? What is its fate? Survey the beliefs of the Greeks, Chinese, Australian aborigines, and other groups, seeking common elements.
Witnessing a meteor fall must have been a strange and awe-inspiring experience for people long ago. Travel around the world to places where meteorites were worshiped and also used as a source of iron, which was rarer than gold before the smelting technology of the Iron Age.
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Since no human can touch the sky, any unexpected celestial event must be a divine omen. Reenter this primordial state of mind, seeing eclipses and comets the way they were perceived before the advent of modern science. In the course of this investigation, discover why comets became more feared than eclipses. For centuries, astronomers have struggled to find an explanation for the Star of Bethlehem, recounted in the Gospel of Matthew. Professor Schaefer focuses on a recent theory that has taken scientists and biblical scholars by surprise, due to its success at solving problems that plagued all previous proposals.
The human propensity for pattern recognition and storytelling has led every culture to invent constellations. Trace the birth of the star groups known in the West, many of which originated in ancient Mesopotamia.
At least one constellation is almost certainly more than 14, years old and may be humanity's oldest surviving creative work. Study the constellation patterns of ancient China, which influenced those of India and Arabia. Professor Schaefer dates the origin of the Chinese star groups called lunar lodges, and he samples southern constellations conceived by cultures in South America, and Australia.
Astrology grew up hand in hand with astronomy.