Follow that star!

Photo by Eberhard Grossgasteiger from Pexels.

If you think our science has really advanced since early civilizations, you might be surprised to learn about the ancient Babylonian understanding of physics. It gives credence to the old saying, “There’s nothing new under the sun.”

A recent article in The Assyrian National News Agency, Ancient Babylonian Astronomers Were Way Ahead of their Time, reports that ancient Babylonian astronomers used surprisingly modern methods to track the path of Jupiter.

These old-time wisemen applied methods that are staples of modern astronomy–physics and math–to plot a 60-day portion of Jupiter’s wandering path across the sky on a graph. The graph had two axes: one for time and the other for velocity. Although a drawing of the trapezoid that they described wasn’t included on the cunieform tablets, the text make it clear that they understood that the area of that trapezoid is the total distance Jupiter travels in 60 days.

This article made me think about the Zoroastrian astronomers who followed a star to find the king whose birth it announced–and there it was shining over Bethlehem. Did you ever wonder what methods they used to do that? Perhaps, now we have a clue.

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