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jugoso

Ancient Egyptians understood the 'Demon Star

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Posted (edited)

Startling evidence suggests the ancient Egyptians understood the inner mechanics of a binary star system, spinning through our skies 93 light years away, more than 3,200 years ago.

Not only that, their specific calculations have helped support a scientific line of inquiry which only emerged just a few years ago.

The binary system - two stars which rotate around each other - was first noted in modern astronomy by a John Goodricke, back in 1783.

He spotted how Algol - also known as the Demon Star - appeared to decrease in brightness for a few hours every 2.87 days, and was the first to theorise that this was two stars blocking each other's light in relation to Earth.

Or we thought he was the first - it turns out the Egyptians apparently had this all figured 3,000 years earlier.

Edited by jugoso

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It seems strange to ignore an error in the egyptian lunar month period ie 29.6 vs 29.53 for the modern calc, but then declare that the ancient egyptian calculation for the raging ones period at 2.85 days was accurate at the time.....so was the lunar month calculation accurate at the time also?

Heres a link to another article dealing with findings that arent so sensationalised;

http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/27809/

Like the egyptians did not know the inner mechanics of a binary star 3200 years ago they simply recorded its period.

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The findings seem to be pretty much the same. it is just the title that differs. And you have to admit.....Demon star sounds way cooler. :yes:

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The findings are meaningless if they can't show how the Egyptians c.1200 BC knew about a star system in a Greek named constellation. Even the article itself says:

And the other was 2.85 days - which researchers from the University of Helsinki in Finland ascribe to the Algol system.

So this is not actually attributed to a contemporary Egyptian belief in the heavens. Interesting how they left that out.

cormac

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While agreeing with Cormac, we have to consider that star gazing and trying to find correlation between the stars and events on the ground has been part of human timekeeping since the discovery of agriculture, so it would not be surprising that calendars were based on this or that star.

To the article itself: It could have been any other star with a similar (apparent) orbit, it did not have to be the "demon star".

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They recorded the detailed observations of Algol in a document called The Cairo Calendar, according to Wikipedia

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According to the article "Did the Egyptians record the period of the eclipsing binary Algol - the Raging One?" is the following:

We searched for the best variable star candidate from the General Catalogue of Variable Stars (hereafter GCVS).

Meaning that they looked for the best fit for their calculations while having never actually provided evidence that the Egyptians were even aware of the Algol system (specifically by any AE name) nor used it in their texts. Sounds more like making the facts fit the theory rather than the theory fit the facts IMO.

cormac

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Must be aliens..

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According to the article "Did the Egyptians record the period of the eclipsing binary Algol - the Raging One?" is the following:

Meaning that they looked for the best fit for their calculations while having never actually provided evidence that the Egyptians were even aware of the Algol system (specifically by any AE name) nor used it in their texts. Sounds more like making the facts fit the theory rather than the theory fit the facts IMO.

cormac

I think you hit the nail on the head with this one Cormac, it certainly sounds that way to me as well.

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Algol (Beta Persei) is probably the most conspicuous variable star. At both maximum and minimum brightness it is easily visible to the unaided eye. This would have been even easier in ancient times, when the air was cleaner, and light pollution of the skies was at a minimum. It seems impossible to distinguish a small time measurement error from a real, if slight, slowdown in orbit of the obscuring star, over the past several thousand years.

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