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Last Updated: Dec 7, 2017 URL: http://libguides.warner.edu/mainscience Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Ancient Astronomy Print Page

Tools & Beliefs

  • The Almagest
    From Astronomy Encyclopedia
    Astronomical treatise composed in c.AD 140 by Ptolemy. It summarizes the astronomy of the Graeco-Roman world and contains a star catalogue and rules for calculating future positions of the Moon and planets according to the Ptolemaic System.
  • Astrology: Topic Page
    Study of the relative position of the planets and stars in the belief that they influence events on Earth. A strongly held belief in ancient Babylon, astrology spread to the Mediterranean world, and was widely used by the Greeks and Romans.
  • Calendar: Topic Page
    System of reckoning time for the practical purpose of recording past events and calculating dates for future plans. The calendar is based on noting ordinary and easily observable natural events, the cycle of the sun through the seasons with equinox and solstice, and the recurrent phases of the moon.
  • Gnomon
    From The Penguin English Dictionary
    A fixed projecting part that casts a shadow on the face of a sundial, indicating allowing the time to be told.
  • Ptolemaic system
    From The Columbia Encyclopedia
    Historically the most influential of the geocentric cosmological theories, i.e., theories that placed the earth motionless at the center of the universe with all celestial bodies revolving around it (see cosmology).
  • Stone circles
    From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia
    Prehistoric megalith. The circles were built with standing stones, usually on level ground. Many are now partly fallen or incomplete, the stones having been removed for building.
  • Sundial: Topic Page
    Instrument that indicates the time of day by the shadow, cast on a surface marked to show hours or fractions of hours, of an object on which the sun's rays fall.


  • Alhazen (965 - 1038)
    From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia
    Arabian scientist. He was the author of the Kitab al-Manazir/Book of Optics, translated into Latin as Opticae thesaurus (1572). For centuries it remained the most comprehensive and authoritative treatment of optics in both East and West.
  • Archimedes (BCE 287 - 212): Topic Page
    Greek mathematician, physicist, and inventor. He is famous for his work in geometry (on the circle, sphere, cylinder, and parabola), physics, mechanics, and hydrostatics.
  • Aristarchus of Samos (BCE 310 - 230)
    From Science in the Ancient World: An Encyclopedia
    Aristarchus of Samos was a mathematician who was the first human to argue that the sun, not the earth, was the center of the universe. Aristarchus was a theorist more than an empiricist.
  • Aryabhata (476 - 550)
    From Astronomy Encyclopedia
    Indian mathematician and astronomer who wrote three astronomical treatises, only one of which, the Āryabhatīya (AD 499), survives.
  • Chang Heng (78 - 139)
    From Chamber's Biographical Dictionary
    Born in Wan (Nanyang), he was the astronomer royal at the court of the later Han emperors. Although none of his actual works has survived there are detailed accounts extant of several of his inventions.
  • Eudoxus of Cnidus (BCE 408 - 352)
    From Science in the Ancient World: An Encyclopedia
    Eudoxus, Pythagorean and student of Plato, was an astronomer, mathematician, and physicist. He wrote Phaenomena, one of the seminal statements from the ancient world on astronomy.
  • Heraclides of Pontus (BCE 4th Century)
    From Science in the Ancient World: An Encyclopedia
    Heraclides was an astronomer of note and the first known to speculate that at least some planets orbit the sun. He was a student of the Academy and was influenced by both Plato and Aristotle.
  • Hipparchus of Nicea (BCE 190 - 120)
    From Astronomy Encyclopedia
    Greek astronomer, geographer and mathematician who made observations from Nicea (in what is now modern Turkey), Alexandria, Egypt and the Greek island of Rhodes.
  • Omar Khayyam (1034 - 1130)
    ō'mär kìäm'), fl. 11th cent., Persian poet and mathematician, b. Nishapur. He was called Khayyam [tentmaker] probably because of his father's occupation. The details of his life are mostly conjectural, but he was well educated and became celebrated as the outstanding mathematician of his time
  • Ptolemy (c. AD 90 – 168): Topic Page
    Greek astronomer, mathematician, and geographer. His Geography was the standard geographical textbook until the discoveries of the 15th century.

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