PHYS 299

The History and Practice of Ancient Astronomy

This course treats the ancient astronomical tradition from its beginnings around 700 BC down to its culmination in the astronomical Renaissance of the sixteenth century. Attention is devoted not only to the emergence of astronomy as a science, but also to the place of astronomy in ancient life, including its use in time-telling, and its affiliations with literature and philosophy. The treatment of ancient technical astronomy is thorough enough to permit the student to apply ancient techniques in practical problems, e.g., in the design of sundials and the prediction of planet positions. Concrete models and scale drawings are used to deepen understanding and to simplify analysis, but some geometry is required.

Prerequisites: One course satisfying the Humanistic Approaches core requirement.