Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Night sky

There’s a comet in the sky, and it will be at its brightest next week, which is fitting, considering Christmas is approaching and all that. A good opportunity to carry outside my telescope and some hot chocolate, and spend a few hours watching. The comet is called 46P/Wirtanen, and it is not visible in the naked eye except in really clear sky/no lights areas; but otherwise can actually be spotted with a good pair of binoculars.

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Have you seen the stars tonight?

This post is about the intersection of ancient history, poetry and science. It is the sort of thing I love, and I decided to share – and I think this is perfectly on topic1.

Let’s start with the ancient world.
One thing we often forget, as we live in our cities, is how dramatic and impressive the night sky must have been to the ancients.
And this not because we know the stars are thermonuclear furnaces burning in the void, light-years away, and they had no idea.
No, the reason is simply that they had darkness – no electric lights, no great cities filled with neons and light.
To the ancient, the night was dark, and the stars were many, and bright and clear in the night sky2.

 

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The ancients navigated by the stars, tried to predict the future and interpret fate by the stars, and in general looked up and wondered. Continue reading