Astronomy and Culture: A Historic Snap Shoot by Ann C. Cloutier Science Department Sandwich High School   copyright 2009
Who thought of astronomy first ?
African Astronomy ~ 2,000 BC <ul><li>African’s are like any other ancient people who wondered at the night sky and struggl...
Chinese Astronomy   1500BC ( possible 3,000BC disputed ) <ul><li>The Chinese determined the seasons and the passage of tim...
<ul><li>Cosmology in Australia has one of the oldest applications. Aboriginal culture was unique in that it identified the...
Mayan  Astronomy ~400 BC <ul><li>Mayan Indians, during the Pre-Columbian American time did not leave charts of the stars. ...
Greek Astronomers 250 BC <ul><li>Greeks had the most accurate observations and record keeping, many through stories about ...
Inuit Astronomy <ul><li>Intuits used stones in much the same way as Celtic did to mark important celestial events.  </li><...
European Astronomers ~1400-1700 AD <ul><li>Galileo  Copernicus  Kepler </li></ul><ul><li>Scientist arrested for thinking: ...
<ul><li>Archeoastronomy – WebQuest </li></ul><ul><li>Reading about the ancient mind. </li></ul><ul><li>The powers of obser...
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History & Culture of Astronomy April 10, 2009 acloutier copyright

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Historic & Cultural Approach to Astronomy

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History & Culture of Astronomy April 10, 2009 acloutier copyright

  1. 1. Astronomy and Culture: A Historic Snap Shoot by Ann C. Cloutier Science Department Sandwich High School copyright 2009
  2. 2. Who thought of astronomy first ?
  3. 3. African Astronomy ~ 2,000 BC <ul><li>African’s are like any other ancient people who wondered at the night sky and struggled to make sense of it. Evidence has been slow to permeate academic studies of archeoastronomy and the public’s understanding . Myths and calendars ancient megalith observatories, found in Nabta, in southern Egypt, predates Stonehenge and other megaliths. Ng’amoritunga’s on the shores of Lake Turkana, Kenya, is the site of the 2,000 year old logic calendar predating any European influences. </li></ul><ul><li>Each African culture wrote stories about constellation of importance to their culture. Some were for prayer time. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Chinese Astronomy 1500BC ( possible 3,000BC disputed ) <ul><li>The Chinese determined the seasons and the passage of time through the astronomical phenomena at early mansions (also known as lunar lodges, lunar mansions, constellations, Xiu) in the Southern Sky. </li></ul><ul><li>Mansion Huo, follows summer solstice. </li></ul><ul><li>Mansion Niao, follows spring equinox. </li></ul><ul><li>Mansion Xu, follows autumnal equinox. </li></ul><ul><li>Chinese 1,500BC Shang Dynasty oracle bones recorded celestial events. </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>Cosmology in Australia has one of the oldest applications. Aboriginal culture was unique in that it identified the constellations by the dark clouds -Dark Matter instead of the stars. </li></ul><ul><li>The Sun was a female, the Moon a young man who grows fat – waxing Moon phase. He, the Moon, grows fat by devouring the spirits of those who disobey tribal laws. </li></ul><ul><li>The sky calendar told the Aboriginal people when to move for food and water. </li></ul><ul><li>The Milky Way was known as the Great River. Shooting stars are “ spirits” sent back to let the family know that the loved one has arrived in the spirit –land safely. </li></ul><ul><li>A beautiful tradition is the Morning Pole, pointed at Venus (planet) also known as the Morning Star. Communication between loved ones and the dead is done to show them that they are still loved and remembered. </li></ul>Aboriginal Minds – Australia ~ 1,500 AD ?
  6. 6. Mayan Astronomy ~400 BC <ul><li>Mayan Indians, during the Pre-Columbian American time did not leave charts of the stars. Iconography and archaeology guided a reconstruction determining that each culture found the Universe was encompassed by the Sky, Earth and the Underworld. </li></ul><ul><li>Celestial bodies were thought to be living beings who could influence man and be affected by them. Mayan belief was that people were at the Center of the Universe, here on Earth. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Greek Astronomers 250 BC <ul><li>Greeks had the most accurate observations and record keeping, many through stories about the night sky constellations. </li></ul><ul><li>Greek astronomer Hipparchus discovered that on the first day of Spring, Earth had a slow progression of moving eastward called “precession”, he understood celestial motion & the math. </li></ul><ul><li>Claudius Ptolemy – Earth geocentric theory prevailed for 1,400 years </li></ul><ul><li>Theory was not correct. </li></ul><ul><li>Eratosthenes measured the circumference of the planet that for thousands of years was within miles of accuracy , 1% off, correctly determined by GPS satellites. </li></ul><ul><li>7,926.28 miles or 12,756.1 km at equator. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Inuit Astronomy <ul><li>Intuits used stones in much the same way as Celtic did to mark important celestial events. </li></ul><ul><li>Time and its passage especially around the New Year had stone portals for Shamash to celebrate the rituals of the culture. Door shapes were considered check points in time, looking ahead and looking back. </li></ul><ul><li>Rocks were important enough for any Inuit to give a name to followed by offerings to honor or pray to. </li></ul><ul><li>The Underworld, and Earthly worlds were often layered rocks, one huge flat stone on top of three in tripod design below, marked stairs to the Underworld. An upward, fixed pointed stone , was to point at a star in the Skyworld, to make a connection to all three worlds. </li></ul>
  9. 9. European Astronomers ~1400-1700 AD <ul><li>Galileo Copernicus Kepler </li></ul><ul><li>Scientist arrested for thinking: </li></ul><ul><li>Trial of Galileo Galilei </li></ul><ul><li>He was punished (house arrest) for his science. Irony was that he had more time to concentrate and further prove his theory correct. </li></ul><ul><li>Father of the Scientific Method and improved Dutch telescope design for lunar observations.1564-1642 AD </li></ul><ul><li>Nicholas Copernicus Heliocentric theory </li></ul><ul><li>Sun centered solar system ; </li></ul><ul><li>Religious man. Considered Father of Modern Astronomy 1473- 1543 AD </li></ul><ul><li>Johannes Kepler –correct theory of planetary motion around Sun in ellipses - not circles. </li></ul><ul><li>1609 AD </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>Archeoastronomy – WebQuest </li></ul><ul><li>Reading about the ancient mind. </li></ul><ul><li>The powers of observation. </li></ul><ul><li>Creating your own stories about constellations. </li></ul>The Take-Away

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