Historical photographs

Prague clock. Astronomy and thought

Prague clock. Astronomy and thought


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This photograph shows us an astronomical clock from the 15th century, in the city of Prague. We see the zodiac ring, which indicates the apparent movement of the Sun through the 12 constellations of the zodiac. The constellations are read counterclockwise.

In its origins, it was not distinguished between astronomy and astrology. From the 8th century B.C., the Babylonians began collecting all known data on the position of the Sun, the moon and the stars. They knew their influence well in the cycles of nature. They thought that the position of the stars also influenced people's lives. If reading the sky they predicted nature, the future of people could also be predicted. Thus were born the predictions of the zodiac.

Today we know that it has no scientific foundation, but in its beginnings science and beliefs were the same category.

The Babylonians used an arithmetic system based on the number 6 and its multiples. They applied it to astronomy. They measured the sky as a circumference of 360º. To make their predictions they divided it into 12 parts of 30º each. Each party was assigned the name of the dominant constellation in that sector of the sky. Today we still have remains of that arithmetic in many aspects of our lives, especially in our way of measuring time. Also the 12 constellations of the zodiac are inheritance of the ancient Babylonian thought.

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