Hipparchus' star map may have finally been found

Hipparchus’ star map may have finally been found

Hipparchus’s map of the stars may finally have been found Detail of f. 53v, beginning of first column of subtext (Syriac overtext in dark brown, and slight traces of some letters of the subtext). Credit: Biblical Collection Museum. All rights reserved. © Museum of the Bible, 2021. astronomy history review (2022). DOI: 10.1177/00218286221128289

A trio of researchers from CNRS, UMR, Tyndale House and Sorbonne University, respectively, have found what may be Hipparchus’ famous star map. In their article published in astronomy history reviewVictor Gysembergh, Peter Williams, and Emanuel Zingg describe a palimpsest manuscript that was found at the Greek-Orthodox Saint Catherine’s Monastery on the Sinai Peninsula, and what they believe it describes.

Historians have long believed that a star catalog was created long ago by the first Greek astronomer Hipparchus – his catalog was supposed to represent the first star map. But the lack of physical evidence for such a map left the record for the creation of Ptolemy’s first star map. In this new effort, researchers believe they have found part of the catalog created by Hipparchus between 162 and 127 BCE.

Hipparchus’s map of the stars may finally have been found Detail of f. 53v (multispectral image, by the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library and the Lazarus Project at the University of Rochester processed by Keith T. Knox: enhanced Greek subtext appears in red below Syriac overtext in black). Credit: Biblical Collection Museum. All rights reserved. © Museum of the Bible, 2021. astronomy history review (2022). DOI: 10.1177/00218286221128289

The work began with the study of a palimpsest manuscript which was originally found at St. Catherine’s Greek Orthodox Monastery and is now owned by the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. The team noted that the material on which the text had been printed had been written on text that had been scratched off, allowing reuse – a common practice at the time. Intrigued, one of the team members asked a group of students to see if they could decipher the previous text. One of them, Jamie Klair, found what appeared to be a line of text that had previously been seen in the work of Eratosthenes, an astronomer.

Hipparchus’s map of the stars may finally have been found Detail of f. 53v (yellow plots based on full set of multispectral images). Credit: Biblical Collection Museum. All rights reserved. © Museum of the Bible, 2021. astronomy history review (2022). DOI: 10.1177/00218286221128289

Then, convinced that the subtext may matter, the manuscript was sent to the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library, where it was digitized using various lighting techniques. Researchers were able to recover most of what had been erased. The overwritten text described the positions of several constellations and other star positions. Using precession (the amount of Earth’s wobble), the team was able to verify not only the accuracy of the star’s coordinates, but also the dates when the measurements were taken. They found the coordinates quite accurate, more so than Ptolemy’s work. And the date that the mapping took place was 129 BCE.

The researchers conclude that their assessment of the manuscript very strongly suggests that it was created by Hipparchus and that it represents the oldest known star map.


Long-lost star catalog discovered on Roman statue


More information:
Victor Gysembergh et al, New Evidence for Hipparchus’ Star Catalog Revealed by Multispectral Imaging, astronomy history review (2022). DOI: 10.1177/00218286221128289

© 2022 Science X Network

Quote: Hipparchus star map may have finally been found (October 20, 2022) Retrieved October 20, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-10-hipparchus-stars.html

This document is subject to copyright. Except for fair use for purposes of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without written permission. The content is provided for information only.


#Hipparchus #star #map #finally

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *