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Ancient Observatories Timeless Knowledge

Sun-Earth Day Presents: Ancient Observatories, Timeless Knowledge


This section is for amateur astronomers and almost anyone with a love of astronomy. The activities presented here simulate astronomical techniques used for centuries before the developmnet of the telescope. The certificate observing program is sponsored by NASA and the Astronomical League.

For thousands of years, people have looked to the sky for answers to some of life's most important and central questions. With no light pollution, no electric lights to push away the night, the sky at one time and for most of history was ablaze with light of its own; millions of lights that moved in predicable patterns throughout the year. During the day, the most prominent and important celestial object, the sun, made its trek across the sky giving life to the world.

Early astronomers were revered in many cultures for their ability to predict and "explain" celestial events. Without the aid of telescopes, they understood the movement of the sun and could predict with great precision, the equinoxes and solstices. The ability to predict eclipses of the sun and moon is thousands of years old and the synodic orbital periods of the 5 naked eye planets were known well over a thousand years ago by the Mayans.

Ancient Observatories Certificate Program

Today, NASA and The Astronomical League would like to invite you to share again in the wonder and mystery of the sky as seen without the aid of telescopes or spacecraft. "Ancient Observatories, Timeless Knowledge" focuses on the structures and techniques used by ancient astronomers to measure and predict celestial movement. To fulfill the requirements for this certificate program, you will need to accomplish the following tasks:

  1. Register on the Amateur Astronomers Registration Form
  2. Perform activity I (in the left menu) and one of activities II through V.
  3. Hold a public event around the ancient observatory theme. This could include hosting a community or school in building an ancient observatory, giving a public talk, working with a teacher to teach these concepts to a K-12 school,.
  4. Send us a picture from your Ancient Observatories project or event for posting on the NASA Ancient Observatory site.
  5. When you have completed steps one through four, you may download your Ancient Observatories Certificate to print.

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