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Calendars of the world have often been set by observations of the Sun and Moon (marking the day, month and year), and were important to agricultural societies, in which the harvest depended on planting at the correct time of year, and for which the nearly full moon was the only lighting for night-time travel into city markets.
The common modern calendar is based on the Roman calendar.
It is generally believed that the first astronomers were priests, and that they understood celestial objects and events to be manifestations of the divine, hence early astronomy's connection to what is now called astrology.
Ancient structures with possibly astronomical alignments (such as Stonehenge) probably fulfilled astronomical, religious, and social functions.
The systematic records of ominous phenomena in Babylonian astronomical diaries that began at this time allowed for the discovery of a repeating 18-year cycle of lunar eclipses, for example.
Among the discoveries are: The origins of Western astronomy can be found in Mesopotamia, the "land between the rivers" Tigris and Euphrates, where the ancient kingdoms of Sumer, Assyria, and Babylonia were located.The last stages in the development of Babylonian astronomy took place during the time of the Seleucid Empire (323–60 BC).In the 3rd century BC, astronomers began to use "goal-year texts" to predict the motions of the planets.The first evidence of recognition that astronomical phenomena are periodic and of the application of mathematics to their prediction is Babylonian.
Tablets dating back to the Old Babylonian period document the application of mathematics to the variation in the length of daylight over a solar year.
The Babylonian GU text arranges stars in 'strings' that lie along declination circles and thus measure right-ascensions or time-intervals, and also employs the stars of the zenith, which are also separated by given right-ascensional differences.