The study of celestial objects is an ancient one. Knowledge of the sun, moon, and stars, and their associated mythology, was passed from generation to generation but few conclusive records of prehistoric observations survive.
Constellations were part of the historical record in Mesopotamian culture around 4000 B.C. In the 8th century B.C. Homer mentioned a few now familiar constellations in his epic poem, the Odyssey. Four hundred years later Eudoxus of Cnidus wrote about 43 constellations (or 45 or 48 depending on one’s interpretation) which survive today. Eudoxus’ original work was lost but his ideas were kept alive by Aratus in a poem called Phaenomena (circa 270 B.C.). Continue reading