By Joel Davis
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Additional info for Alternate Realities: How Science Shapes Our Vision of the World
Each was thought to rule the land when in ascendance. Ancient Egyptian astronomy was thus limited at best. The priests of the Egyptian religion used astronomical observations to calculate the rise of the Nile and to determine the beginning of the calendrical year. Protoscientific observation served only to support agricultural technology. The Egyptian climate was pleasant, and life was good. The Nile delivered life, the crops grew and were harvested, and the Sun rose and set and was not always too hot.
At various times a wandering star would appear to stop its constant movement in the sky, run backward for awhile, and then stop and move forward again. This is called retrograde motion, and it added to the mystery of the wandering stars. Different cultures eventually discerned what they believed to be causal connections between stars' movements and certain spiritual, mythological, or psycho- 40 D Alternate Realities logical events. And the "hairy stars" came to be seen as portents of evil or tragic times.
It appears without warning, moves night by night across the heavens, and then disappears as mysteriously as it appeared. How to explain these visions of the night? What are they? What meaning might they have to we who watch? What causal connections, if any, exist between the the "cosmic landscape" stretching out above our heads and the terrestrial landscape in which we live? We have been asking these questions about astronomical reality for a very long time. As the species named Homo sapiens, we have existed on this planet for at least forty thousand years.