Mayan Astronomy

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Mayan Astronomy

Who were the Mayans? The Mayans were part of the Mesoamerican civilization and they lived around 2,000 BCE and lasted through to the time when the Spanish explorers arrived. From 250 CE – 900 CE was when they reached the peak of their development. They are well known for a fully developed written language, numerical system, mathematics, art, architecture and astronomy.

Where did the Maya civilization thrive? They inhabited parts of Central America such as Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and also in areas of Mexico.

What were the Mayans views on astronomy? When they viewed and studied the heavens the Mayans mainly focused on Venus and the Sun. They had a calendar, which predicted both solstices and equinoxes and is infamous for ending at December 21st, 2012. The calendar was also very precise and could anticipate eclipses and the revolution of Venus give or take a day for every 6,000 years. The reason for this accuracy was that astronomical observations made by priests were passed down by generations. Venus: No civilization knew more about Venus than the Mayans. Venus was thought to be the companion of the Sun because it is one of the brightest objects on the night sky and because it is always near the Sun before sunrise and after sunset. The time it took for Venus and Earth to line up in their position correlated to the Sun was 584 days. The Mayans also timed their wars based on where Venus and Jupiter were at the time. Sun: But they obviously gave some considerance to the Sun. They not only noted down equinoxes and solstices but Zenial passages as well. They also had a god who symbolized the Sun during a Zenial passage called the Diving God. And the Ecliptic, the path the Sun follows in the sky, was depicted by a double-headed serpent. Also, to signal the changing of season, a ball game was played that re-enacted the Sun’s orbit around the Earth. Earth: The Earth was believed to be...
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