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Acronychal Risings in Babylonian Planetary Theory

Swerdlow, N. M. (1999) Acronychal Risings in Babylonian Planetary Theory. Archive for History of Exact Sciences, 54 (1). pp. 49-65. ISSN 0003-9519. doi:10.1007/s004070050033.

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The Astronomical Diaries (ADT), and a fewknowncollections for individual planets, contain observations of five synodic phenomena of superior planets: heliacal rising (Γ), first station (Φ), acronychal rising (Θ), second station (ψ), and heliacal setting (Ω). A date is given for each, in the case of Γ often both an observed date and a ‘true’ or ‘ideal’ date on which the rising is considered to have occurred even if it was not observed, as due to clouds, found by a measurement of the interval in degrees of time between the rising of the planet and the rising of the sun. However, location is recorded differently for each class of phenomena. Heliacal risings and settings, Γ and Ω, are located by zodiacal sign, or by beginning or end of zodiacal sign. In some cases Γ contains a measured distance from a nearby ‘normal’ (standard) star or planet, for conjunctions of planets with stars or with each other were considered ominous. But it does not appear that measurements of distances from stars at Γ were used to establish location more precisely than by zodiacal sign, and distances from planets cannot be used to establish location. First and second stations, Φ and ψ, usually contain a measured distance from a normal star, presumably to determine when the planet was stationary, but sometimes only a location by zodiacal sign. Acronychal rising Θ contains no location at all. It could have been assumed that the planet was in the zodiacal sign opposite the sun, but no location for the sun is given in the Diaries. (It is curious that acronychal risings were observed at all since there are no omens associated with them. Yet an acronychal rising of Jupiter appears already in the second earliest known Diary, ADT -567, and one may wonder why.) Sometimes observations contain the remark ‘not observed’ (nu pap), which presumably indicates an inference of the date and location from nearby preceding or following observations.

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Additional Information:© 1999 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. Received September 16, 1998. I wish to thank John Britton for invaluable advice in letters while writing this paper, above all concerning evidence for the use of stations and the method of computing acronychal risings, which he suggested to me in the first place.
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Official Citation:Swerdlow, N. Arch Hist Exact Sc. (1999) 54: 49.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:101093
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:04 Feb 2020 00:02
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 17:59

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