Astronomical measurements in Ancient Greece for students

Project leader: Dr. Athanasios Taramopoulos

Although it is not widely known to students and the public, the ancient Greek philosophers had made a number of accurate astronomical measurements and created successful models in an effort to describe the wonders of the Cosmos. With the power of the human mind they carried out reasonable estimates of the sizes of the earth, the moon and the sun and the distances of the sun and moon from the earth.

This project’s aim is two-fold. Firstly it aims at bringing this knowledge to the secondary education students, who, by carrying out these measurements, will appreciate how an innovative mind can explore the universe from our little planet. The students will carry on exploring the universe beyond the earth, moon and sun and by analysing their observations will evolve their knowledge on the universe and change any alternative ideas held to the scientific accepted ones. Secondly, it is this project’s aim to support these students in reaching out the community and spreading this knowledge to the public so that everyone can realize that the cosmos is not far out of reach but is within everybody’s grasp to explore it even from their own backyard, as the Ancient Greek astronomers did.

The first goal will be accomplished by incorporating the project in the context of the Spring Term course of the Greek curriculum called “Project” of the 16-year-old secondary students. Within this course the students will learn the fundamental elements of earth and sky motion, will restore any misconceptions inherited by their surroundings, will carry out the aforementioned measurements and will make observations of the sun at normal class hours and sky observations at evening sessions.

The second aim will be accomplished by supporting these students along with invited university experts to present their techniques and findings at a series of public lectures and workshops to the students of the other schools of the district and the local community during the local cultural festivities in the summer of 2013.

Astronomy project classes will continue in the Fall Term 2013 when the students will expand their knowledge beyond the local neighbourhood by carrying out observations and astrophotography of the wonders of the Cosmos around us. All the project’s actions will be disseminated to the world via a special area in the school’s website thus producing a legacy of astronomical observations for the next generations.