Astronomy in the Ancient World

Early and Modern Views on Celestial Events

  • Alexus McLeod

Part of the Historical & Cultural Astronomy book series (HCA)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-viii
  2. Alexus McLeod
    Pages 1-8
  3. Watchers of the Sun

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 9-9
    2. Alexus McLeod
      Pages 11-51
    3. Alexus McLeod
      Pages 53-72
  4. The Celestial Empire

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 73-73
    2. Alexus McLeod
      Pages 75-108
    3. Alexus McLeod
      Pages 109-125
  5. Calculation of Astronomical Wonders

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 127-128
    2. Alexus McLeod
      Pages 129-169
    3. Alexus McLeod
      Pages 171-181
  6. The Perfection of the Spheres

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 183-184
    2. Alexus McLeod
      Pages 185-211
    3. Alexus McLeod
      Pages 213-225
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 227-234

About this book


Alexus McLeod explores every aspect of the lesser-known history of astronomy in the Americas (Mesoamerica and North America), China and India, each through the frame of a particular astronomical phenomena. Part One considers the development of astronomy in the Americas as a response, in part, to the Supernova of 1054, which may have led to a cultural renaissance in astronomy. He then goes on to explore the contemporary understanding of supernovae, contrasting it with that of the ancient Americas.  Part Two is framed through the appearances of great comets, which had major divinatory significance in early China. The author discusses the advancement of observational astronomy in China, its influence on politics and its role in the survival or failure of empires.  Furthermore, the contemporary understanding of comets is also discussed for comparison.  Part Three, on India, considers the magnificent observatories of the Rajput king Jai Singh II, and the question of their purpose. The origins of Indian astronomy are examined in Vedic thought and its development is followed through the period of Jai Singh, including the role played by solar eclipses. The author also includes a modern explanation of our understanding of eclipses to date. In the final section of the book, McLeod discusses how ancient traditions might help modern civilization better understand Earth’s place in the cosmos.


Ancient Chinese Astronomy Ancient Civilization Ancient Comets Ancient Indian Astronomy Ancient Solar Eclipses Ancient Supernovae Early Astronomical Instruments History of Astronomy Mesoamerican Astronomy

Authors and affiliations

  • Alexus McLeod
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ConnecticutFort CollinsUSA

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Physics and Astronomy
  • Print ISBN 978-3-319-23599-8
  • Online ISBN 978-3-319-23600-1
  • Series Print ISSN 2509-310X
  • Series Online ISSN 2509-3118
  • Buy this book on publisher's site
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