From Myth to Reality
The long intellectual journey from viewing Sirius and the other stars as the heavenly counterparts of myth and superstition, to the realization that the stars are actual material objects governed by physical laws, spanned nearly 25 centuries. One important way station on that journey was the ancient city of Alexandria in Egypt. It was in Alexandria, founded by Alexander the Great in 332 BC during his conquest of Egypt, where many key Greek astronomers either worked or studied over a period of nearly five centuries. The origin of many important discoveries and ideas that shape our thoughts about the stars can be traced to Alexandria and to the Great Library that flourished there. Among the important names associated with Alexandrian astronomy are Aristarchus, Hipparchus, Eratosthenes, and Ptolemy. With the prominent exception of Ptolemy, much of the original work of these ancient astronomers is now lost and we have only secondary sources and commentaries from which to gauge their achievements.
KeywordsBright Star Astronomical Unit Star Catalog Precessional Motion Stellar Parallax
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