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Did You Know

  • Many ancient burial sites in Britain have astronomical significance. Not far from Loch Ness there is an ancient tomb (around 2500 BC) called the Balnuaran of Clava. On the shortest day of the year (the winter solstice) sunlight shines directly into two entrance passages leading to a special chamber deep inside. This chamber is dark for the rest of the year and only lit on this one day!
  • Our word for month comes from the same old word as our word for the Moon. The moon takes 28 ¼ days to go around the Earth, closely relating to one month. Our week of seven days is based on a quarter cycle of the moon.
  • The ancient Greeks were the first to study Astronomy as a science. A man called Claudius Ptolemaeus, known as Ptolemy (AD 100-178) was one of the first to record his, and others’ observations in books.
  • The word Planet means ‘wanderer.’ This is because the planets appeared to ancient people as stars which wandered across the sky during the course of the year. We know now that the planets are much closer to Earth than the stars and that their wanderings result from their orbits around the Sun.
  • Ancient peoples used the regular motions of the stars and planets as a sort of sky calendar. It was important for them to know the season so they could plant and harvest their crop.