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Astronomy in ancient Europe

Astronomy in ancient Europe


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Ancient peoples who inhabited Europe had advanced knowledge of the movements of the stars, mathematics and geometry. They made great constructions for the practice of observational astronomy, determined solstices and equinoxes and were able to predict eclipses.

The astronomers of the megalithic cultures had really amazing knowledge of the movements of the stars and practical geometry. They show us that they possessed that great knowledge of the groups of large erect stones (megaliths, some of more than 25 tons of weight), arranged according to regular geometric schemes, found in many parts of the world.

Some of these stone circles were erected so that they indicated the sunrise and sunset and the Moon at specific times of the year; They especially point to the eight extreme positions of the Moon in its 21-day cycle declining changes that mediate between a full moon and the next.

Several of these observatories have been preserved until today, the most famous being those of Stonehenge in England and Carnac in France.

Stonehenge has been one of the most widely studied. It was built in several phases between 2200 and 1600 B.C. Its use as an astronomical instrument allowed the man of the megalithic to make a fairly accurate calendar and predict celestial events such as lunar and solar eclipses.

Stonehenge was erected at 51º north latitude and the fact that the angle between the point of sunrise at the summer solstice and the southernmost point of moonrise is a right angle was taken into account. The circle of stones, which was divided into 56 segments, could be used to determine the position of the Moon throughout the year. And also to find out the dates of the summer and winter solstices and to predict solar eclipses.

The stone circles gave the megalithic man in Europe a fairly safe calendar, an essential requirement for settlement in organized agricultural communities after the last glacial period, some 10,000 years B.C. But, although the early European learned to use the sky to regulate his life, he continued to worship the stars, considered as residence or even as a manifestation of powerful gods who controlled everything.

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