Many millennia ago, even before the history of civilization began, a person once looked at the night sky and suddenly realized that this abyss, full of luminaries, contains thousands of secrets - including the most important one: how our world began, " where did it all come from. " Since then, thousands of the best minds have fought over the mysteries of the Universe, the emergence of life and reason.
The starry sky already in the most ancient times attracted the views of our ancestors. Thousands of distant luminaries, flickering in the black abyss, frightened and beckoned, hid incomprehensible secrets and riddles. Already in those days, a person tried to understand what place was allotted to him in the Universe, what this huge world is, how it works, whether it had a beginning or it always existed, whether the Universe arose by itself or powerful deities had a hand in its creation ...
In ancient Egypt, astronomy was considered the most important and honorable science. Only select people of high origin - the priests - were engaged in it. They already knew that a day on Earth lasts 24 hours, and a year - 365 days, they knew all the lunar phases and could easily make any calendar. Simple Egyptians, who believed that all celestial bodies are deities, thought that the priests-astronomers were aware of the plans of the gods. That is why even the rulers of the country - the pharaohs - consulted with astronomers in Egypt.
The ancient Egyptians, like many other peoples, understood that the sun plays the most important role in the life of people on Earth. Day after day, they watched as the luminous disk generously rewards them with its warmth and light, and when the sun goes down, pitch darkness sets in. Therefore, the Egyptians loved and revered the heavenly body, considering it the main god, and called it by the name of Ra, which in translation from ancient Egyptian means "the Sun".
Ancient Greece, or Hellas, as the Greeks themselves called their land, flourished at the end of the 1st millennium BC. e. The Greeks adopted many of the knowledge and teachings of Egypt and Babylon, but changed and brought into the system the way they themselves saw and understood the world. Astronomy in Ancient Greece became one of the most important sciences - not only priests, navigators and merchants, but also the greatest philosophers, who were often also scientists of the broadest knowledge, were engaged in it. The ancient Greek sky map and the names of many astronomical objects have survived to this day. Back in the 9th century. BC e. in the poems of Homer "Iliad" and "Odyssey" were described the methods of determining the month and year, keeping the calendar and counting the time.
The great ancient Greek philosopher Plato (428-348 BC) was one of the first to suggest that the Earth is a sphere, although his predecessors always represented it as a flat or convex disk. Plato's call to find an explanation for the irregularities in the movement of various luminaries had a huge impact on the astronomers of Greece.
Observation of the unchanging and eternal stars led our ancestors to the idea that order and harmony exist in the world - both in heaven and on earth. Later, when it was noticed that some luminaries - the planets - move across the sky differently than the stars, but at the same time they also obey certain laws. So, the sky became for the people of the past a kind of "textbook" of the basic laws according to which time, matter and energy exist. And since music was considered the standard of perfection and orderliness in those distant times, philosophers and scientists started talking about the "music of the spheres" and "the harmony of heaven." In the days of antiquity, teachings arose that ascribed to each of the planets and celestial shells its own special sound. These sounds, merging into a "symphony", embodied for the Greeks the unity of all the fundamental principles of the Universe.
Ancient astronomy reached its peak in the works of the ancient Greek astronomer, mathematician and geographer Claudius Ptolemy (87-165 AD). His main work - "The Great Mathematical Construction", or "Almagest" for a whole millennium has become a "bible" for astronomers and mathematicians.
The "Almagest" includes all the achievements of astronomy since ancient times, a number of discoveries made by Ptolemy himself, as well as a catalog of the starry sky with a list of 48 constellations and 1022 stars. The scientist described all the devices and methods of calculations that were used in his time, and proposed a mathematical model of the world, known as the "Ptolemy system".
Abu Jafar Nasir al-Din at-Tusi (1201-1274) - an outstanding Persian mathematician and astronomer of the 13th century. He owns works on philosophy, geography, music, optics, medicine, mineralogy. During the Mongol conquest of Central Asia, at-Tusi was appointed court astrologer for Khan Hulagu, and for many years was his confidant and adviser. The scientist managed to get the consent and money from the khan to build an astronomical observatory near the Persian city of Tabriz in the town of Maragha, which eventually became the largest in the world.
As a result, the Maragha Observatory was equipped with the best astronomical instruments; many famous scientists worked here, whose lives were actually saved by at-Tusi. For 12 years, the most complete astronomical tables with a stellar catalog were created, and the head of the observatory himself, in his treatise "A Memo to Astronomy", proposed a completely new theory of the motion of celestial bodies, significantly different from the one created by Ptolemy.
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