Astronomy in the Ancient World: Early and Modern Views on by Alexus McLeod

By Alexus McLeod

Alexus McLeod explores each point of the lesser-known historical past of astronomy within the Americas (Mesoamerica and North America), China and India, every one during the body of a selected astronomical phenomena. half One considers the advance of astronomy within the Americas as a reaction, partly, to the Supernova of 1054, which can have ended in a cultural renaissance in astronomy. He then is going directly to discover the modern figuring out of supernovae, contrasting it with that of the traditional Americas. half is framed in the course of the appearances of serious comets, which had significant divinatory importance in early China. the writer discusses the development of observational astronomy in China, its impression on politics and its function within the survival or failure of empires. moreover, the modern knowing of comets can be mentioned for comparability. half 3, on India, considers the very good observatories of the Rajput king Jai Singh II, and the query in their function. The origins of Indian astronomy are tested in Vedic notion and its improvement is during the interval of Jai Singh, together with the function performed by means of sunlight eclipses. the writer additionally encompasses a glossy rationalization of our figuring out of eclipses to this point. within the ultimate part of the ebook, McLeod discusses how historical traditions will help smooth civilization larger comprehend Earth’s position within the cosmos.

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If we are near one of the equinoxes, we know that when the shadow is at 45° northeast, it is 3 o’clock pm. There are of course some complications, because the path of the sun through the sky does not remain constant year-round, of course (Fig. 12). And this fact leads to an additional use of the gnomon. One can use the gnomon to determine the solstices. At the winter solstice (in December in the northern hemisphere, June in the southern), the sun will reach its lowest extent in the noontime sky, and thus the shadow cast by the gnomon at noon will be longest at this point than at any other time of the year.

In fact, we never directly observe (with the naked eye at least) a completely full Venus, as the planet is too close to the sun from our vantagepoint to be visible in this phase. In its crescent phase, Venus is on the same side of the sun as the Earth, and as close to it as possible. Thus, while we see less of the full disk of Venus lit, its apparent magnitude is greater because of the proximity of this light (Photo credit: NASA) orbit, it will be closest to the Earth when it is in its “new” phase (where Venus is between the sun and the Earth), and furthest from Earth in its “full” phase.

When it appears on one side of the sun from us in its orbit, Venus appears in our night sky as an star, coming into view just after the setting of the sun in the west, as the glow of the sun fades. As it moves further in its orbit, passing us and (from our perspective) continuing around the sun (remember than Venus moves more quickly through its orbit than does the Earth, as all planets closer to the sun move faster through their orbits), Venus becomes invisible to us for a period of days when it is too close to the sun from our perspective to be seen.

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