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The Astronomy of Many Cultures: A Resource Guide


8. Astronomy of Islamic Cultures

Ahmad, I. & Khalid Shaukat, S. "Muslim Moon Sightings" in Mercury, May/June 1995, p. 38. The Muslim calendar and sighting the first crescent moon.

Gingerich, Owen "Islamic Astronomy" in Scientific American, April 1986, vol. 254, p74.

Arab and Islamic Astronomy (Leslie Welser):

The Role of Astronomy in Islam (Dr. Shirin Haque-Copilah):

Records of Eclipses in Muslim Astronomy:

First Visibility of a Lunar Crescent Site (some easy, some technical):

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9. Astronomy of Hawaiian, Polynesian, and Native Australian Cultures

Bryan, E.H. & Crowe, Richard Stars Over Hawaii, 2nd ed. 2002, Petroglyph Press (available from An introduction to the stars as seen from Hawaii and their use as navigation aids in traditional Hawaiian voyaging.

Finney, Ben Hokule'a: The Way to Tahiti. 1976, Dodd Mead. An anthropologist describes recreating the voyages of the ancient Polynesians using the stars to navigate. Updated in his Sailing in the Wake of the Ancestors: Reviving Polynesian Voyaging. 2004, Bishop Museum Press.

Haynes, R. "Dreaming the Sky" in Sky & Telescope, Sep. 1997, p. 72. On the astronomical ideas in Australian aborigines culture.

Makemson, Maud The Morning Star Rises: An Account of Polynesian Astronomy. 1941, Yale University Press.

Introduction to Maori Star Lore (New Zealand):

Polynesian Voyaging Society:

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10. Astronomy of Asian Cultures

Nakayama, Shigeru A History of Japanese Astronomy. 1969, Harvard University Press. From ancient times through the 19th century, with a look at Chinese influences.

Spitz, Anna "Visiting the Moon Lady" in Mercury, Jul/Aug. 2006, p. 24. On Chinese moon legends and how they continue to be used in cultural celebrations.

Chinese Astronomy:
(this site is potpourri of all kinds of information)

The Mathematics of the Chinese Calendar (by Helmer Aslaksen of the National University of Singapore):

Copernicus in China (on the spread of Copernican ideas by Nathan Sivin of the University of Pennsylvania):

Japanese Star Lore:

The Lunar Calendar in Japan:

Bibliography of Korean Astronomy: (This is a nice list of articles, but mostly in scholarly journals.)

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D. Some Technical Volumes

Batten, Alan, ed. Astronomy for Developing Countries. 2001, International Astronomical Union. Published by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific ( Describes the many challenges of starting or continuing astronomy programs in countries without an extensive science infrastructure.

Bauer, Brian & Dearborn, David Astronomy and Empire in the Ancient Andes: The Cultural Origins of Inca Sky Watching. 1995, University of Texas Press. Scholarly exposition.

Ruggles, Clive & Saunders, Nicholas, eds. Astronomies and Cultures. 1993, University Press of Colorado. Papers about Chinese, Japanese, Islamic, and Mesoamerican cultures.

Ruggles, Clive, et al, eds. Songs from the Sky: Indigenous Astronomical and Cosmological Traditions of the World. 2005, Ocarina Books. Proceedings of a 1983 international conference on ethnoastronomy (OK, so it took a while to publish). 32 papers about the sky knowledge, folklore and art of cultures around the world.

Selin, Helaine, ed. Astronomy Across Cultures: The History of Non-western Astronomy. 2000, Kluwer. A series of scholarly articles on the ancient astronomical traditions and monuments of a wide range of cultures.

Williamson, Ray & Farrer, Claire, eds. Earth and Sky: Visions of the Cosmos in Native American Folklore. 1992, University of New Mexico Press. Collection of essays.

David Dearborn's bibliography of technical and nontechnical readings in archaeoastronomy can be found at:

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