a135-syl

a135-syl - Astronomy 135: Archaeoastronomy Spring 2008...

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Astronomy 135: Archaeoastronomy Spring 2008 Tuesday/Thursday, 11:35--12:50, LC102 Instructor: Dr. Michael Faison Office: JWG 251, 260 Whitney Ave. Office hours: Tues., 2-4pm, Wed., 12-2pm, and by appointment E-mail: faison@astro.yale.edu Teaching Assistant: Joel Tanner, joel.tanner@yale.edu Introduction Archaeoastronomy is the study of “old astronomy,” often taken to mean astronomy before the use of telescopes. Archaeoastronomy is concerned with such issues as how people over time have interpreted celestial events, or how celestial events may have affected our overall worldview, or cosmology. For example, architectural alignments of buildings with the azimuthal direction of the rising sun on a particular day might tell us something about the purpose of the building or the significance of that particular day in a prehistoric culture. This course will be presented in three main parts. First, we will learn the basics of geocentric classical astronomy, such as how things move in the sky and the cyclic motions that form the basis of almost all calendar systems around the world. We will also cover important practical uses of observational astronomy, such as timekeeping and celestial navigation. In the second third of the course, we will follow the historical thread of astronomy in the “Western” world, starting with core ideas of modern astronomy that were established in Mesopotamia, quantified into mathematical models by the Greeks, refined by Arabic astronomers of the Islamic Empire, and eventually up to the Copernican Revolution in Europe. Finally, we will look at the development and influence of astronomy in several non-Western cultures, including China, Southeast Asia, and Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. We will spend very little time discussing modern astrophysics, i.e., the application of terrestrial experimental physics to observed celestial phenomena. For example, for most of the course we will assume that the earth is stationary at the center of the Universe. We will discuss some ways that that archaeoastronomy has contributed to modern science, for example, in the
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course ASTR 135 taught by Professor Michaelfaison during the Fall '08 term at Yale.

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a135-syl - Astronomy 135: Archaeoastronomy Spring 2008...

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