Astronomical observations recorded in Vedic Literature & their Date

Aatreya

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
3,626
USA
Actually, RigVeda gives us the exact date when the sun went down the horizon. It was the fortieth of Sharadi. That is the fortieth day from the autumnal equinox or 10th in the eighth month. That would correspond to October 10, when the verse says Indra found Shambara, one of the demons of darkness, in his fort. RigVeda is exact history. That is why Martanda was considered to be unformed while seven others were fully formed.
What is the hymn that gives the "exact" date of Sun going down the horizon? Now this is fun.
 

Aupmanyav

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,931
New Delhi, India
Tilak was a minion in this field.
You should be careful in what you say about great people of India. If Tilak was not sure of what he was saying, he would not have written it.
What is the hymn that gives the "exact" date of Sun going down the horizon? Now this is fun.
Gladly.
यः शम्बरं पर्वतेषु क्षियन्तं चत्वारिंश्यां शरद्यन्वविन्दत l
ओजायमानं यो अहिं जघान दानुं शयानं स जनास इन्द्रः ll (R.V. II.12.11)
yaḥ śambaraṃ parvateṣu kṣiyantaṃ catvāriṃśyāṃ śaradyanvavindata l
ojāyamānaṃ yo ahiṃ jaghāna dānuṃ śayānaṃ sa janāsa indraḥ ll

He who discovered in the fortieth autumn Śambara as he dwelt among the mountains;
Who slew the Dragon putting forth his vigor, the demon lying there, He, men, is Indra. (Ralph Griffith)
Tilak: “Indra found Shambara dwelling on the mountains on (chatvârimshyâm sharadi) the fortieth in autumn.”

"Now Sharad is the fourth season of the year, and the fortieth day of Sharad would mean seven months and ten days, or 220 days, after the first day of Vasanta or the spring, which commenced the year in old times. In short, the passage means that Indra’s fight with Shambara, or the annual conflict between light and darkness, commenced on the tenth day of the eighth month of the year, or on the 10th of October, .. The passage thus gives the very date of Indra’s annual fight with Vṛitra; and if it had been correctly understood, much useless speculation about the nature of Vṛitra’s legend would have been avoided. ..

According to this interpretation Sharad becomes the last season of sunshine, and it may be here remarked that the etymological meaning of the word further supports the same view. For Sharad is derived from shri (Eng. Shrivel), to wither or waste away (Unâdi 127), and the word thus primarily signifies the “season of decay or withering”; and the decay here referred to is evidently the - decay of the power of the sun, .. Thus we find in the Taittirîya Samhitâ, II, 1, 2, 5, that “There are three lusters or powers of the sun; one in Vasanta, that is, in the morning; one in Grîshma or the mid. day; and one in Sharad or the evening.”

In the chapter on Comparative Mythology in "Arctic Home in Vedas":
"The great feast of the Norsemen occupied three days called the Winter Nights and began on the Saturday falling on or between the 11th and the 18th of October; and according to Dr. Vigfusson this feast marked the beginning of the ancient year of the Norsemen. The old Norse year thus appears to have been shorter by a few days than the Celtic one; but Prof. Rhys accounts for this difference on the ground “that winter, and therefore the year commences earlier in Scandinavia than in the continental center from which the Celts dispersed themselves.”

As regards the ancient Greek calendar, Prof. Rhys has shown that the old year ended with the festival of Apaturia and the new one began with the Chalceia, an ancient feast in honor of Hephæstus and Athene, the exact date being the ènu kai nea of the month of Pyanepsion, that is, approximately the last day of October. Prof. Rhys then compares the Celtic feast of the Lugnassad with the Greek festival named Panathenæa, and the feast on the Calends of May with the Athenian Thargelia, and concludes his comparison of the Celtic and the Greek calendar by observing that “a year which was common to Celts with Greeks is not unlikely to have once been common to them with some or all other branches of the Aryan family.”
 
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Aupmanyav

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,931
New Delhi, India
This is how ancient people found time in Polar Regions.
Kiruna, Sweden, on Dec. 23, 2019 : 9PM
Kiruna9PM.png
Kiruna, Sweden, on Dec. 24, 2019 : 7AM
Kiruna7AM.png
As I see it, the position of Altair and the Milky Way galaxy easily gives approximate time. I am sure that ancient people recognized many more stars.
 
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Aupmanyav

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,931
New Delhi, India
And here is Kiruna, Sweden at 2 AM On Dec. 24, 2019, without removing atmospheric illumination (i.e., actual as it would be). At this time, Star Arcturus is so prominent.
Did I choose Kiruna, Sweden for any particular reason? No, just for heck. Basically I wanted to show how the stars change their position with time.

Kiruna2AM.png
Same three images (9 PM, 2 AM and 7 AM) with Indian star names (this time looking towards the Southern horizon):
Kiruna1.jpg . Kiruna2.jpg . Kiruna3.jpg
 
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Aupmanyav

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,931
New Delhi, India
The stars given their time, season and elevation, will give direction information also. Seems complicated, but those who are familiar with this, will read it like a book, like the navigators do.
 
May 2013
1,725
The abode of the lord of the north
I took the information in the text you quoted in post #195 and used the information provided by @Aupmanyav to search. It didn't take long because I started with the date range you provided. The particular stars indicated by the information cited by @Aupmanyav as being associated with Aslesa form the head of the Hydra constellation. So, what we needed to look for was a time when the summer solstice was occurring near this position along the ecliptic. I used Stellarium to find this starting in 850 BC (shown as -850 in the attached screen grab). However, I didn't have to search any further. In fact, this text may have been written some time after 850 BC. If you go back in time from this point, the sun will slip further to the left along the ecliptic toward Leo at the summer solstice. If you go forward from 850, the sun will get closer to Cancer and eventually pass it. To the right and a little down from Cancer is the head of Hydra. I determined when the solstice occurred by running Stellarium forward and backward to find when the sun's azimuth reached its annual minimum at sunrise from the perspective of an observer on the ground in Delhi. I removed the landscape and daylit sky so the stars and more of Hydra could be seen but this image depicts sunrise at the eastern horizon.

It seems to me this is evidence that either the text was written (composed orally, whatever) around this time or that, during this era, it was revised and older information was replaced regarding celestial positioning at the solstices.


View attachment 23146
Which text did you date now? And how did you do it? Can you please elaborate a bit on it?
 

Aupmanyav

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,931
New Delhi, India
Tilak dates Vedanga Jyotisha from 1,400 BCE. It is not a scriptures and I believe it contains many verses from a later date, just like in case of Manusmriti.
 

dreamregent

Ad Honorem
Feb 2013
4,410
Coastal Florida
Which text did you date now? And how did you do it? Can you please elaborate a bit on it?
As noted, this roughly dates the text cited in Post #195. Note that I merely synthesized the data provided by other posters and used Stellarium to test it. They did not know how I would derive an answer beforehand. Below, I have posted the image again but I have placed a yellow circle around the particular stars from the Hydra Constellation specified by @Aupmanyav in Post #206, which were identified on this image by using Stellarium's star chart data. If these specific stars indeed comprise the noted asterism, then it seems at least this portion of the text was composed during the first half of the 1st millennium BC. The text could have been considered relevant (e.g. close enough for practical purposes) over many generations, perhaps several centuries. This is because precession takes so long to occur and the migration of the solstice across the stellar background would have passed unnoticed over a single person's lifetime. There is no way to derive an exact date from this information but you can certainly get a general idea. From the information provided, I would say 850 BC would be the approximate midpoint of the period over which this observation could have been considered relevant. This is assuming the identified stars in Hydra comprise at least the core of the relevant asterism noted in the text. Obviously, I'm not an expert in Vedic astronomy so I can't be any more precise than that and, again, this analysis is based solely on the data provided by participants of this thread.

And a note about azimuth and altitude. This is the coordinate system used by an observer on the ground. Azimuth is akin to a compass circle parallel to the ground which encompasses the horizon. North = 0°, East = 90°, South = 180° & West = 270°. As we approach the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere, the sun rises a tiny bit further north on the horizon each day and reaches its northernmost point on the day of the summer solstice before it begins moving south again. And Altitude is the elevation of an object in the sky. Hence, the date of the solstice was found by using Stellarium to gauge when the sun reached it's northernmost point along the compass circle at sunrise from the perspective of an observer on the ground in Delhi. It would have been the same day for any observer in the northern hemisphere. This change in position of the sunrise on the horizon is actually described by the text.


850bc-summersolstice-starsmarked.png
 
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Aupmanyav

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,931
New Delhi, India
This is the sun-rise on the day of vernal equinox on April 20, 850 BCE (Location Delhi). The sun is rising in the asterism of Pleiades (Krittika). This is mentioned in the Hindu scriptures - "Krittika is the mouth of the Year", etc. We changed the beginning of the year a bit late, only around 600 AD to Arietis (Ashwini). What is important that at that time, the beginning of the year was in 'Phalguna' and not in 'Chaitra' as it is now. This was changed later to adjust for precession of equinox.This
1571751327179.png

Sky on the day of vernal equinox on April 20, 600 AD (as per Stellarium).
1571751040763.png
 
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Aupmanyav

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,931
New Delhi, India
Indians always missed one asterism, I suppose due to resistance from orthodox.
After Punarvasu (Castor and Pollux), it was Mrigashiras (Orion) and not Ardra (Betelguese). After Mrigashiras (Orion), it was Krittikas (Plielades) and not Rohini (Aldebaran). After Krittikas (Plielades), it was Ashwinis (β and γ Arietis) and not Bharani (35, 39, and 41 Arietis).

This has been our journey in upward of 6,000 years as per RigVeda from Pollux to Orion to Pleiades to Aries which we have crossed now and are in Pisces.
1571898224724.pngBottom
 
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