Researchers found Hipparchus' 2100-year-old star map, and it's the world's oldest

With this discovery, researchers are ready to go even further back.
Nergis Firtina
Yellow tracings based on full set of multispectral images.
Yellow tracings based on full set of multispectral images.

Museum of the Bible Collection 

Researchers may have recently stumbled upon a piece of the oldest known star map. It's said that the evidence demonstrates being made by Hipparchus.

Scholars explained a palimpsest text that was discovered at the Greek Orthodox St. Catherine's Monastery on the Sinai Peninsula and what they think it portrays in their article that was published in the Journal for the History of Astronomy on October 18.

Hipparchus, also known as the father of astronomy, made the first known attempt to map the entire sky in the second B.C.

As reported, the newly discovered palimpsest indicates that Ptolemy holds the distinction of having created the earliest star chart, despite there being no tangible proof of its existence. With this discovery, researchers are ready to go even further back.

Remarkable attention of the student

The study of a palimpsest manuscript that was initially uncovered at the Greek Orthodox St. Catherine's Monastery and is now in possession of the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., served as the foundation for the project.

Researchers found Hipparchus' 2100-year-old star map, and it's the world's oldest
Beginning of the first column of undertext (Syriac overtext in dark brown, and faint traces of a few letters of the undertext)

The researchers saw that the printed text had been placed over previously scraped-away text, enabling for reuse—a frequent technique at the time. One of the team members was so intrigued that he asked some pupils to see if they could recognize any of the previous writing. Jamie Klair, one of them, discovered what appeared to be a line of text that had previously been spotted in an astronomer named Eratosthenes' work.

The manuscript was delivered to the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library, where a number of lighting methods were used to scan it. The majority of what had been removed was retrieved by the researchers. Several constellations' positions, as well as other star positions, were stated in the overwritten text.

Who was Hipparchus?

Greek astronomer, geographer, and mathematician, Hipparchus is considered the father of astronomy. Although he is credited with creating trigonometry, he is most known for accidentally discovering the precession of the equinoxes. Hipparchus was created in Nicaea, Bithynia, and most likely passed away on the Greek island of Rhodes. Between 162 and 127 BC, he is known to have been a practicing astronomer.

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He was the first to develop precise and quantitative models for the movements of the Sun and Moon. He undoubtedly used the observations made by the Babylonians, Meton of Athens (fifth century B.C.), Timocharis, Aristyllus, Aristarchus of Samos, and Eratosthenes for this, as well as maybe the mathematical methods amassed over the course of generations.

Abstract

New evidence for ancient Greek astronomer Hipparchus' lost Star Catalogue has come to light thanks to multispectral imaging of a palimpsest manuscript and subsequent decipherment and interpretation. This new evidence is the most authoritative to date and allows major progress in the reconstruction of Hipparchus' Star Catalogue. In particular, it confirms that the Star Catalogue was originally composed in equatorial coordinates. It also confirms that Ptolemy's Star Catalogue was not based solely on data from Hipparchus' Catalogue. Finally, the available numerical evidence is consistent with an accuracy within 1° of the real stellar coordinates, which would make Hipparchus' Catalogue significantly more accurate than his successor Claudius Ptolemy's.

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