It is one of the astronomer Hipparchus’ ancient, unusual, and extraordinary depictions of long-lost stars. Researchers from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, discovered this treasure at the St. Catherine Monastery in Egypt.
According to Scientific America, the map, which details early workings in plotting the entire galaxy of stars in the sky, was discovered buried in Christian texts. The researchers were combing through stacks of the monastery’s well-preserved Hipparchus works, which had been stored in the library for centuries.
The findings have been described as exceptional by James Evans, an astronomy historian at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma. The work, which was published in the Journal for the History of Astronomy, is regarded as one of the first attempts by ancient Greek astronomers to comprehend the skies and their stars.
According to Evans, Hipparchus’ work provided an opening for early attempts to use science to understand the placement of stars. Early astronomers sought to describe the patterns they saw in the sky and used them to predict positioning.
Evans stated that the manuscripts contained a collection of Syriac texts written between the 10th and 11th centuries. Peter Williams, a biblical scholar at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, initially instructed his students to study the manuscripts as if they were Christian texts.
However, they turned out to be scripted works by astronomer Eratosthenes. When the pages were examined further, it was discovered that they were stars that had been plotted on the pages. The stars in the sky contained in the map were revealed when the images were subjected to wavelengths of light and computer algorithms used to illuminate their hidden features.
The manuscripts transcribed in the fifth and sixth centuries reveal details about the origins of the star as well as passages from a famous third-century BC poem that describes the group of stars. When a student of science historian Victor Gysembergh pointed out some unusual markings in the manuscripts, everyone became more aware of the finer points.
He stated that the positioning of the stars became clear once they began plotting and reviewing the stars marked in the manuscripts. They were able to determine the length and breadth in degrees of the group of stars known as Corona Borealis, or the Northern Crown, as well as the extreme north, south, east, and west stars.
According to the historians, after studying the markings and plottings of Hipparchus’ work, it was clear he was the author of the data. The data also allowed the researchers to track the measurements of the ancient work and date it. They used the same evidence to conclude that the ancient astronomer made the observations in 129 BC.
Hipparchus was regarded as an outstanding discoverer by the researchers, while Ptolemy was regarded as a good teacher who kept a record of his predecessors’ work. His works shed light on what the stars looked like in the ancient skies. He perfected the art of predicting star positions.