Ancient Indian Astronomy

This course gives an overview of the various discoveries in astronomy by observers of the sky in ancient India. From the heliocentric model, which Indian astronomers had noticed thousands of years back to the establishment of nakshatras from the milky way as well as calendar construction. The earliest text on astronomy available today is the Vedanga Jyotisha that came towards the end of the pre-Siddhantic period.

Instructor: NPTEL

Start Course
Enrolled Students

101

Suggested Time

2 weeks

Pricing

Free

Language

English

Rating

4

Unit 1: Introduction

Rediscovery of ancient Indian astronomy 11 min

Indian astronomy had been left in the background and forgotten for centuries due to the turmoil that existed in India due to the various invasions from Islamic to the colonialists. As the vedic culture had spread to south-east asia to places like Siam(Thailand), it was studied by certain portuguese and was determined to be Indian. With time the British too with their campaign of denigrating anything Indian, tried to belittle its superiority while absorbing various portions of it for their own gain.  
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Positional & Observational Astronomy 15 min

The astronomers in the past had calibrated the position of the sun, moon and planets against the fixed backdrop of the stars. This helped them ascertain seasons, solar and lunar eclipses, as well as develop a nomenclature for observational astronomy.
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Unit 2: Periodic Motion

Periodic & Coordinate Motion 10 min

The rotation of the earth on its axis, the yearly periodic motion of the earth around the sun, the phases of the moon are some of the paths noticed. A coordinate system was developed in Indian traditions where the origin lay in the Nirayana & Sayana zodiacs while the europeans consisderd the vernal equinox which shifts yearly leading to various miscalculations. The hosrizontal motion was the now common zenith and azimuth points as well as the different directions while standing stationary.
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Solar & Sidereal 7 min

There exists a difference between the total time required for the earth to rotate on its axis for 360 degrees versus the time it takes for the sun to appear at the same fixed point on earth. This is due to the angle of the earth as well as its ecliptic path.
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Unit 3: Solar system & Nakshatras

Nakshatras 21 min

Nakshatras are the group of 27 (at times 28) lunar mansions of the ecliptic through which the moon moves in its orbit around the earth. Each of the nakshatras is governed as 'lord' by one of the nine grahas as the cycle repeats itself three times to cover all 27 nakshatras
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Events & Beliefs 7 min

Comets and Meteors were routinely observed by many of the ancients. Astronomers such as the great Aryabhatta I recognized them and knew that Rahu & Ketu denoted the points of intersection of the paths of the Sun and the Moon and weren't actual planets.
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