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Comparison Between Egyptian and Chinese Astronomy

Criteria Egyptian Astronomy Chinese Astronomy
Images Egyptian God Thoth Chinese Zodiac
Calendar Simple solar calendar - suited to agricultural seasons and Nile flood predictions.
- 365 days year
- 12 months with 30 days each
- Month divided into three 10 day weeks
- Five festival days added to the end of the year.
Complex lunisolar calendar - months follow the phases of the moon. As a result, they do not accurately follow the seasons of the solar year. To assist farmers to plant or harvest crops, the calendar has 24 seasonal markers, which follow the solar year
- An ordinary year has 12 lunar months
- A leap year has 12 lunar months and a 13th intercalary month which may come after any regular month
- An ordinary year has from 353 to 355 days
- A leap year has from 383 to 385 days
- Seven days week
Role in Society Practical role in construction and Agriculture
- Positioning the pyramids - aligned accurately with the star B Scorpii's rising direction.
- Astronomers were simply priests - their main duty was to calculate the time of the Nile flood, which occurred at the summer solstice when the bright star Sirius rose before the sun.
Complex role in divination
- Chinese developed complex mythologies surrounding the planets and stars.
- They saw planetary phenomena as indicators of life out of balance. The worst event was a solar eclipse, which they thought happened as a dragon tried devouring the Sun
- Astrology - the divination of the future from the Chinese Zodiac played an important part in the culture of China
- Astronomers in ancient China had to announce the first day of each month, track the seasons, and predict eclipses for their rulers. Failure to get the predictions right, resulted in the beheading of astrologers.
Astronomical knowledge - Limited knowledge and interest in stars and planet movements (exception in the Ptolemaic Period )
- Geometry was limited, and did not allow for complicated mathematical computations.
Chinese astrologers developed sophisticated observatory buildings, movements of stars were calculated and tracked with great attention and accuracy
- Beijing Ancient Observatory
- Master Zhou's Observatory
- Chang'an observatory
- 2400 BC -Astronomical Calendar
- 238 BC -Ptolemy 3 suggested adding one day every four years to calendar - implemented two centuries later under Julius Caesar and known as the Julian calendar.
- Alexandria University - Ptolemaic Period scientists reached solid conclusions on the earth's rotation around the sun and the approximate geosphere of the planet
- 2137 BC -"Classic of History" records solar eclipse.
- 2000 BC -Jupiter revolution around its orbit is 12 years.
- 1400 BC -Calculation of solar and lunar eclipses by analyzing the Moon's motion.
- 1100 BC -Chinese determine the spring equinox.
- 613 BC -Comet Halley recorded
- 532 BC -A nova recorded by Zuo Zhuan.
- 28 BC -"Book of Han" makes earliest record of sunspot.
- 185 A.D. - The earliest recorded supernova of RCW 86
- 687 A.D. - Earliest recording of meteor shower.
- 1054 A.D. - Recording of the appearance of a guest star, the supernova Crab Nebula.
Catalogue of the universe - Simple 5 constellations (division of the sky)
- 36 groups of stars called decans.
Astronomers undertook the daunting task of cataloging every observable star.
- 28 constellations (division of the sky)
- 283 asterisms - each visible star is assigned into one of the asterisms.
Famous Astronomers - Amenhotep - Li Shu
- Shih-shen
- Li Fan
- Gan De
- Yi Xing
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By Ayman Fadl - Copyright © 2001-2014