History and Sky Lore

The earliest written records were astronomical observations. In 1600 B.C. Babylonians recorded the positions of stars and planets and the times of eclipses. The history of astronomy since then has been a complex interplay of philosophy and science. Cultures throughout time have observed celestial events, constantly learning about the complexities of the universe. In more recent years we have been able to witness this history in the making: we have flown to the Moon, watched the transit of Venus (which noone alive now will see again), and sent probes across the solar system. From ancient history to more recent times, read on to explore the history of astronomy.

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In Memoriam, Star-style

Twenty-five years ago, a star exploded in the Large Magellanic Cloud. The first easily seen supernova since before astronomers turned telescopes to study the heavens, the explosion heralded a new age of astronomy.

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December 21, 2012

In case you haven't heard, there's a rumor going around that the world will end on December 21, 2012. Did the Mayans really predict the world would end then? Is the astronomy for real? Do we have anything to worry about? Not surprisingly, the answers are "no," "no," and "of course not."

Caesar's fleet arrived first at the white cliffs of Dover on the southeastern coast of Britain, but he decided this was not a suitable landing spot.

New Date for Caesar’s British Invasion

In 55 BC, when Julius Caesar and his fleet approached the white cliffs of Dover on the British coast, he faced unexpectedly strong tides. Researchers from Texas State University have used tidal measurements and other astronomical clues to revise the exact date of the historic landing.

Observers and administrators gather at the US Naval Observatory in Washington, DC, in preparation for the American expeditions to the 1874 transit of Venus.

The Transit of Venus: Tales from the 18th and 19th Centuries

A magnificent rendezvous between the planet of love and the bright orb of the Sun. One of the most celebrated phenomena in astronomy. A sight unseen by anyone alive today. With superlatives like these describing a transit of Venus, it is little wonder that astronomers are eagerly awaiting the next one — June 8,...