How has the Study of Astronomy Changed?
Today, the stars and planets are observed and studied with high-powered telescopes in large arrays around the globe. Computers calculate and interpolate electronic signals that radar receives. Telescopes in space like Hubble and Webb send images to Earth of objects many light-years away with magnificent clarity, and they are expertly colored by technical artists.
It wasn’t always that way. Humans have studied the stars since our existence. The Earth is dotted with stone megaliths that were built to measure the movement of stars and planets, divide time, and help predict seasons. Lenses and reflective devices are not new. Some of these stone structures have trenches around them similar to moats. Water was known to have reflective properties and stars could be seen magnified in the still, mirrorlike substance.
The Early Origins of Astronomy
Here is an excerpt from a chronological list of megaliths and astronomical discoveries Dr. Enzmann compiled. For a more detailed version of this timeline, you can read his full scale here at Proto History of Astronomy.
Local Blombos Site, South Africa, Solar V
(For more on the Solar V see The Symbologist ReVision)
Draw circle using cord-as-compass
Earliest known Rhone-Rhine-Danube Civilization One’s astronomical observations
Vogelherd Site, Germany
Thread-winder carved as image of child engraved with lunar-solar calendric
Altamira Calendric, photo by Doc E. Enzmann Archive Image
Altamira Site Solar/Lunar observations record yearly migrations shown about a hexagram later known as Solomon’s Seal (circled)
Regional Solar/Lunar/Seasonal observations
(For more about the hexagram see The Symbologist ReVision)
Area Gönnersdorf sites combine Solar/Lunar/Stellar Zodiac observations
Perseus with star Algol as fire-maker
Map of Europe including Rhine, Rhone, Massif Central, Parpello S. Spain, Coa Valley Portugal, Central Spain
Area & regional Sphinx at Giza Site Egypt. The Sphinx is a symbol denoting Autumnal Equinox in the Great Year.
(See The Symbologist ReVision for more details)
Continental Göseck Site agricultural utility of the Old Vanir European Rhone-Rhine culture – a ‘Green Man Calendar’.
Agricultural utility of the LBK culture: Annual Solar Spiral as precursor of analemma
366 ¼ day Sidereal Year supplants 365 ¼ day Solar year as stellar observations are more accurate
Days of week named: Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn
Dogon astronomy based on telescopes
Astronomy developed the science of geometry. Calculation of time and distance is not possible without geometry. The Vanir navigators of 6000 BC developed this ability, measured the circumference of the earth, understood the distance to the moon, and discovered the Venus clock. People of earth used this phenomenon to set our clocks until the 1970s.
Unlike our ancestors, humans today do not have to calculate astronomical distances in their heads. Computers have augmented human intelligence and made it faster and more accurate to map out the heavens.
One modern company, Lunar Station Corporation, provides these calculated maps for companies that want to commercialize our 8th continent. They collect data from satellite systems and observatories to produce maps and ‘weather’ predictions (on the moon, ‘weather’ basically means asteroid strikes) so companies can launch, land, conduct their business, and return safely to Earth. They call it Lunar Environmental Intelligence.
These days humankind looks to the stars through cell phone apps and computer screens, but millennia ago we gazed up at night at the heavenly array of lights. To this day we still look up and wonder how and when we can get a closer look. Without the ancient history of observation, spanning back longer than most believe, we would never have developed to predicting the weather on the moon for safe passage.
Astronomy vs. Astrology
Astrology was developed after centuries of lore regarding the houses that occupy each 30° section of the ecliptic. There are various cultural interpretations of each constellation but stories of their distinct individualism and influence on human life have been immortalized. The ever-present stars provide a fixed reference for cultural records, rituals, and astronomical knowledge. These lights, or the “language of the stars”, were used to “record” mythologies and history in the heavens. Based on human observation of the universe, the heavens and the Earth, similar attributes for the characters are found in mythologies around the world. The zodiac stories most familiar to western culture are from the twelve-month ecliptic cycle of years and months.
Leading thinkers in Greek philosophy, science, and religion accepted that planets affected events on earth, including those of the individual. Nostradamus (1503 AD) was a great astrologer; he published the first daily “horoscope” of days with positive or negative alignments, read and considered by kings and citizens alike.
Today many are reluctant to put any stock in these ideas, however there is great wisdom in studying the order and cycles of creation. Chemists might take into consideration the effects of the grand universe on their findings: The Great Work of the Alchemists was only possible during certain astrological configurations. The belief that different zodiac constellations affect a specific part of the body, as illustrated by the “Zodiacal Man”, is still prevalent in horoscopes.
There are many references to star stories in the Christian scriptures. In Genesis 1, the scriptures tell us that the stars above impart knowledge. Like road signs, they tell us what to expect.
Our ancestors knew the power of natural cycles and were very aware of their need to predict these cycles for survival. This knowledge was taught to succeeding generations in myths, interwoven with the art of astrology, and attached to the constellations of the zodiac; a never-changing tapestry.
The grand star stories of the zodiac were passed on through millennia in oral tradition and symbolism, although over time astrology has become more a practice of belief than academics. The decline of astrology could be attributed to the science of astronomy itself: The heliocentric hypothesis of Copernicus, Kepler’s laws, Newton’s mechanics, and the discovery of new planets and stars understandably added new variables into the old equations, which caused some doubt as to the accuracy of those equations.
Understanding the root of astrology will bring personal clarity to discussions like these. During the Paleolithic era, there was awareness that babies born at certain times of year had physical advantages (see the Chronology article Trapunto). From ancient Sumeria and Babylonia, for 5000 years, people believed that stars shape the destiny of human affairs by divine power. We see confirmation of this in an ancient symbol for deity, the cuneiform sign for god: a star. Astrologer-astronomers from antiquity advised nobility when the heavens were in a favorable position for everything from marriage to war. This is a logical development from knowing the astronomical, and therefore, some climatological patterns, which can affect the path and outcome of human activity.
The author Bobrick stated that astrology is the oldest of occult sciences, being, in fact, the origin of science itself. Astronomy, calculation of time, mathematics, medicine, botany, and mineralogy all derive from astrology, and from alchemy, modern chemistry. Logarithms were originally devised to make the calculations used in casting horoscopes.
The astrological symbol system that developed is a record of knowledge gained over millennia of studying the stars and planets. Words like conjunction, opposition, forecast, lunatic, venereal, aspect, occult, and influence (influenza) are all astrological terms that permeate our language, along with phrases like “thank our lucky stars” and “star-crossed lovers”.
The Impact of Astronomy on Life – Then and Now
The heavenly bodies, particularly the Sun and the Moon, hold great power over the survival of people; astronomical knowledge was never a choice, it was critical. It still is. Predicting weather cycles and storms, knowing when you could hunt at night under a full moon, and foretelling other astronomical events became a science. We now listen to meteorologists tell us when rain is coming, or when we need to board up our windows because a hurricane is imminent. We depend on astronomers to warn us about potential impact from comets and other heavenly objects.
The similarities of the mythologies throughout the world surrounding the constellations and the ancient roots of heavenly observation tell us a great deal about humans. From prehistoric times we have understood the power the heavens have over our lives and we have wondered, learned, respected, even worshiped what we see. The Sun is the provider of light and warmth, and this knowledge has been the foundation of countless symbols, and the myths, legends, and religions of mankind.
Today astronomy is a technical skill involving computers and A.I. Yet even in our modern world a navigator has to know how to read the stars. The Emerald Tablet of Hermes has a well-known phrase “As above, so below.” This phrase is the subject of countless books and papers expounding on its meaning. It is really very simple: if you know how to read the stars above, you will always know where you are on earth below.
The science of astronomy has contributed other things to our modern lives, not the least of which is the space age. Through the research and development of our pursuit to visit the stars we currently can only see through telescopes or in pictures, we have been blessed with microwave ovens, radar technology, communication satellites, mobile phones, MRI scans, and many other inventions. As we progress into urbanization of the solar system, commercial opportunities and great wealth will grow along with improvements in stewardship of our planet and our health. The business of mapmaking will grow to include celestial maps with routes to and from colonies, asteroids, and planets, as well as to other star systems. Modern astronomy will grow as well, being the science with which we will explore and record our expanding knowledge of the universe.
To find out more about the prehistory of Astronomy, visit our Chronology section of the Archive and check out The Protohistory of Astronomy.