It is interesting to see how movement of stars have always fascinated humans. Nile River was the lifeblood of Egypt and Egyptians noticed back in third millennium BCE that the flooding of Nile coincided in time with the first visible appearance of stars, Star Sothis
famously known as Sirius. They developed their agriculture technique accordingly since they could predict natural environmental events such as famine and floods. Heliacal rising of Sirius was used to fix New Year’s Day and was basis for establishing the dates of festivals.Nabta stone Circle shows the Movement and phases of planets and stars was the basis of measuring time.
Nabta Playa has three stone slabs aligned with Orange Belt and one aligned with Sunset. It was possibly used as Calendar. Being only megalithic stone circle in Egypt, scientists also believed that it could possibly accurately marked the summer solstice.
To Ancient Egyptians, sky was another ocean held up by an invisible force, where Sun and stars would sail through. They had divided the night sky into 36 different groups known as Decans, recognised over 40 different constellations. In addition to that Egyptians had developed the system of Constellation of native origin. Their coffin lids, temples and tombs always had painting of Diagonal Star Table. Karnak temple was aligned with midwinter Sun Three pyramids of in Giza represent the Belt of Orion.
If we see plan view of Great Pyramids of giza, Pyramid of Khufu and middle pyramid of Khafre lined up perfectly when drawing a straight line at 45 degree angle from each of their center points, however when extending the same line towards the Mancari a small pyramid, it does not line up with the other two larger pyramids. When comparing this offset of the pyramid with ORION’s Belt, the same offset in conjunction with the third and the smaller star in that constellation is observed.
Sphinx correspond to the Leo constellation and looking at Egypt facing south we see constellation of Orion before us and River Nile symbolises Milky Way. Ancient Egyptians were well aware of 5 planets, the Retrograde of MARS and the Revolution of Mercury and Venus around the Sun. Orientation of all sacred buildings in ancient Egypt were toward the True North. At the time of Islamic astronomers work of Ibn Yunus who used Trigonometry to calculate 40 planetary conjunctions and 30 solar eclipses.
The knowledge was not limited to festivals, agriculture and architectures. Egyptian believed learning and passing the information through books and they made the biggest library in Alexandria, which became the centre of Science throughout the Hellenistic World.It is now evident that the study of astronomy had far reaching consequences and wasn’t just an intellectual exercise. It impacted our agriculture, our divisions of time and in turn how culture and civilization evolved.
It is our responsibility to spread in-depth information of Masri (Egyptian) astronomical knowledge with intention of preserving and revitalising.