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TechnologicalDarkage OP t1_isudnnm wrote

SS: researches found an ancient text, and using a new method to illuminate its pages where able to make a shocking discovery: they had found the oldest known star map. Previously believed to be a possibility it’s now known that Hipparchus made his star map before Ptolemy and what’s more, used a coordinate system closer to modern ones allowing for much more accurate measurements than Ptolemy. Hipparchus work is older than the Almagest (meaning greatest in Arabic) by several hundred years. This makes the work the first known time humans made detailed measurements of the sky allowing them to predict and model celestial motion, perhaps in a way marking the beginning of astronomy if not science itself.


Snufflepuffster t1_isuqrtb wrote

imo it’s important to note that the optical technique they used recovers the original text from recycled parchment (called a palimpsest). There are thousands of texts like that in libraries all over the world?? so imagine applying this technique to all those documents!


alvinofdiaspar t1_isus7qk wrote

There is a history of important discoveries using this technique- e.g. Archimedes Codex. One can only imagine and hope for more.


rshorning t1_iswhrm9 wrote

It is remarkable that the work of Hipparchus is so valued by modern astronomers that the modern values of stellar magnitude (aka how bright they appear in the sky) was scaled to match the values given by Hipparchus in his original star charts. There are obviously some adjustments and Hipparchus didn't get all of the stars perfectly, but at the same time if the apparent stellar magnitude seems to have been off by a substantial amount the presumption is that something has happened to the star in the last few centuries rather than suspecting the ancient values were wrong.

In other words, real science can even be gleaned from these ancient manuscripts that result in modern discoveries of new astronomical phenomena too. It really is that good in some cases not to mention that some ancient astronomers were extremely meticulous with their data collection that it still has some modern relevance.


zoinkability t1_isxh9zz wrote

It seems that Hipparchus’ measurements were so precise and accurate that the researchers were able to use procession — a phenomenon he apparently discovered — to date the observation to the era of his life. Pretty incredible work.


xoverthirtyx t1_isvrpjk wrote

Ancient mariners used to copy older maps to make newer, better maps. I wonder if the same could apply here.