A Sketch of Ancient Western Astronomy

  • Jian-Liang LinEmail author
  • Hong-Sen Yan


Long time ago, the cyclic motions of the Sun, the Moon, and several moving heavenly bodies were found. Many attentions were paid to these astronomical phenomena for making careful observations and keeping records. They were contributed to not only defining the time systems, such as day, month, and year, for actions and celebrations of human, but also explaining the connection between the human and the stars even to develop the astrology. Indeed, all sorts of accumulated knowledge nourished the embryo of astronomy. Ancient Greek astronomy, between 700 and 400 BC, was an outstanding branch of Western astronomy and contributed many brilliant achievements, including the forming of cosmology and the geometrical theories of celestial bodies. The purpose of this chapter is to study ancient Western astronomical developments, starting with the introduction of Western astronomy and ends with the astronomical achievements of the Hellenistic Age. In addition, several relevant civilizations, including the Egyptian civilization, the Mesopotamian civilization, and the Aegean civilization, calendars, special astronomical cycles, and astronomical theories to describe the motions of celestial bodies by geometrical models are introduced. The following content is the basis of investigation of the known astronomical devices. It is helpful for readers to understand Chaps.  3 and  4 for the known Antikythera astronomical device and its reconstruction work. Also, it is closely contributed to Chaps.  6 10 for synthesizing all possible reconstruction designs of the incomplete and lost mechanisms of this invention.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical EngineeringNational Cheng Kung UniversityTainanTaiwan

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