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Bradley E. Schaefer

Bradley E. Schaefer >

25
Videos
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Stonehenge and Archaeoastronomy
Episode 1 of The Remarkable Science of Ancient Astronomy
Why were the motions of the Sun, Moon, and stars so important to ancient people? Investigate key astronomical directions noticed by all cultures. Then embark on your study of Stonehenge, seeing how it gave birth to the field of archaeoastronomy…
Alignments at Maes Howe and Newgrange
Episode 3 of The Remarkable Science of Ancient Astronomy
Explore Neolithic tombs and monuments across Europe, discovering an array of alignments toward astronomical events. Start with two sites that are similar to Stonehenge in their clear orientation to the winter solstice: Maes Howe in the Orkney Islands, and Newgrange…
The Star of Bethlehem
Episode 9 of The Remarkable Science of Ancient Astronomy
For centuries, astronomers have struggled to find an explanation for the Star of Bethlehem, recounted in the Gospel of Matthew. Professor Schaefer focuses on a recent theory that has taken scientists and biblical scholars by surprise, due to its success…
Astronomy of Egypt's Great Pyramid
Episode 4 of The Remarkable Science of Ancient Astronomy
Study the astronomical significance of Egypt's Great Pyramid. How did its builders achieve such phenomenal accuracy in the pyramid's alignment to the cardinal directions? Were its air shafts intended to point at stars of special importance? Also evaluate modern claims…
The Real Stonehenge
Episode 2 of The Remarkable Science of Ancient Astronomy
In the popular mind, Stonehenge was built as a sophisticated astronomical calculator presided over by priestly astronomers called Druids. But is this view dating from the mid-1960s correct? Address the evidence, and survey the archaeological record to discover the most…
Chaco Canyon and Anasazi Astronomy
Episode 5 of The Remarkable Science of Ancient Astronomy
Travel to Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, where the Anasazi culture practiced sky-centered rituals a thousand years ago. Look for evidence of their astronomical knowledge, examine their many "sun daggers," and probe the controversial pictograph thought to depict the Crab Nebula…
Origins and Influence of Astrology
Episode 12 of The Remarkable Science of Ancient Astronomy
Astrology grew up hand in hand with astronomy. Focus on the different astrological traditions in Mesopotamia, China, India, and Mexico. Also trace the spread of astrology through the Mediterranean world. As an example, study the auspicious horoscope of Octavian, who…
Revealing the Antikythera Mechanism
Episode 19 of The Remarkable Science of Ancient Astronomy
In 1901, divers off a Greek island discovered a corroded bronze artifact composed of interlocking gears. Later analysis and X-ray imaging show it is an astonishingly versatile astronomical computer. Professor Schaefer identifies a probable date when it was built and…
Ancient Cosmologies and Worldviews
Episode 6 of The Remarkable Science of Ancient Astronomy
Consider the astronomy-based world views of different ancient cultures and how they answered the three big questions: Where did the world come from? What is the nature of the universe? What is its fate? Survey the beliefs of the Greeks,…
Meteorite Worship and Start of the Iron Age
Episode 7 of The Remarkable Science of Ancient Astronomy
Witnessing a meteor fall must have been a strange and awe-inspiring experience for people long ago. Travel around the world to places where meteorites were worshiped and also used as a source of iron, which was rarer than gold before…
Origins of Western Constellations
Episode 10 of The Remarkable Science of Ancient Astronomy
The human propensity for pattern recognition and storytelling has led every culture to invent constellations. Trace the birth of the star groups known in the West, many of which originated in ancient Mesopotamia. At least one constellation is almost certainly…
Ancient Navigation: Polynesian to Viking
Episode 16 of The Remarkable Science of Ancient Astronomy
In the era before compasses and GPS, precise direction-finding was possible only through knowledge of the sky. Learn how the Polynesians found islands across thousands of miles of open ocean, and how the Vikings solved the very different challenge of…
Eclipses, Comets, and Omens
Episode 8 of The Remarkable Science of Ancient Astronomy
Since no human can touch the sky, any unexpected celestial event must be a divine omen. Reenter this primordial state of mind, seeing eclipses and comets the way they were perceived before the advent of modern science. In the course…
Ancient Timekeeping and Calendars
Episode 14 of The Remarkable Science of Ancient Astronomy
For ancient people, keeping track of the time of day and year required a detailed understanding of the motions of the Sun, Moon, and stars. See how different cultures solved this problem. Also learn how to use a handy astronomical…
Breakthroughs of Early Greek Astronomy
Episode 17 of The Remarkable Science of Ancient Astronomy
Between 600 and 200 BC, Greek astronomers went from being flat-Earthers to full proto-scientists with reasonable models and distances for the Solar System. How and why did this revolution happen? Focus on the achievements of Thales, Aristarchus, Eratosthenes, and Aristotle.
The Genius of Hipparchus
Episode 18 of The Remarkable Science of Ancient Astronomy
Considered the greatest astronomer of the ancient world, Hipparchus created a thousand-star catalog and discovered precession, the eons-slow rotation of the fixed stars around the ecliptic. Did this remarkable discovery give birth to the Mithraic religion, which rivalled Christianity?
Star Catalogs from around the World
Episode 22 of The Remarkable Science of Ancient Astronomy
The genius of Greek astronomy is epitomized by the star catalogs of Hipparchus and Ptolemy. Professor Schaefer recounts his exciting discovery of a star chart apparently influenced by Hipparchus's lost catalog. Close by comparing Greek star catalogs with those of…
Chinese and Other Non-Western Constellations
Episode 11 of The Remarkable Science of Ancient Astronomy
Study the constellation patterns of ancient China, which influenced those of India and Arabia. Professor Schaefer dates the origin of the Chinese star groups called lunar lodges, and he samples southern constellations conceived by cultures in South America, and Australia.
How the Antikythera Mechanism Worked
Episode 20 of The Remarkable Science of Ancient Astronomy
Learn to operate the Antikythera mechanism, the glory of ancient astronomy. Modern models show how a simple turn of the crank could reveal the day of the year, phase of the Moon, possible eclipse dates, the cycles of ancient games,…
The Lunar Crescent and the Islamic Calendar
Episode 15 of The Remarkable Science of Ancient Astronomy
Delve into the surprisingly tricky problem of deciding when a lunar month begins - usually determined by the first sighting of a crescent Moon after new Moon. Professor Schaefer describes his algorithm for calculating this event and then applies it…