Positional astronomy has evolved from the concepts and ideas first employed by the Babylonians, the Greeks who learnt from the Babylonians but also expanded on the concepts and added to it the concept of a celestial sphere and its relationship with the Earth. The Babylonians and the Greeks influenced the Indians but were also very independent in their development. They constructed great observation instruments to observe celestial objects. The Arabic astronomers learnt from the ideas of the Greeks to develop their own unique understanding of astronomy, and were able to exploit it to in their religious worship. Europe during the scientific revolution saw many developments in astronomy, from the instruments of Brahe, to Harrison’s chronometer, positional astronomy was refined and made more accurate and pushed it into modern day. Modern times saw the need for positional astronomy become more diminished with the advent of the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) people no longer needed to look to the stars to determine their direction or to tell them were on Earth they are located. Before GNSS geodetic astronomy was improving further on the European astronomers of the scientific revolution. Refinement of the optical theodilite, the introduction of the mechanical theodolite, improvements in time keeping and a better understanding of the position of the stars and the Earth, have come about in modern times.


The results discussed are only a select few of the many observations made by astronomers from Babylon to the present day. To give the time and attention deserved for each time period is not possible and not achieved in this thesis. Each time period has its own unique features that allowed for it to look at astronomy in a different way to the previous generation. This needs to be researched and understood before a true perceptive of their achievements can be gained. Their knowledge should never be lost to future generations. As the development of our understanding of astronomy is evidence of human development through the ages.




Last Update 29/10/2008