Long Lost Star Catalog Found in Plain Sight

By | November 30, 2006

Long Lost Star Catalog Found in Plain Sight

The long lost star catalog of Hipparchus has been under our noses ? or, more accurately, slightly above them ? for more than 1,800 years.

Sitting atop the broad shoulders of a seven-foot statue known as the Farnese Atlas is a sky globe depicting the nighttime sky. Scientists have been able to match the constellations shown on the globe with descriptions from Hipparchus?s only surviving work, Commentaries, and have concluded that this is a marble copy of his star catalog.

Hipparchus, who was Greek, was one of the greatest of the ancient astronomers and did his most important work between 140-125 BC. He calculated the length of the year to within six and a half minutes, developed a scale to rate the brightness of stars, was the first to record a nova, theorized on the motions of the Sun and Moon, provided high quality planetary observations and created the first ever catalog of 1,000 stars.

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