Mapping Stars and Planets Until the Zodiac


More than any other science in antiquity, Western astronomy was rooted in objects, categories, and techniques original to Mesopotamia. The Babylonian zodiac circle, in turn, grew out of more than five centuries of attempts at mapping the sky. This talk uses illustrations of ancient ‘astrolabes’ and constellation and planet drawings, along with computer simulations of the sky, to explore how ancient thinkers employed creative methods to relate celestial time and space, lunar and solar calendars, and observation and theory.