Mapping Ptolemy’s Star Catalogue – UROP Spring Symposium 2021

Mapping Ptolemy’s Star Catalogue

Moon Maria Joy


Pronouns: She, her, hers

Research Mentor(s): Francesca Schironi, Professor
Research Mentor School/College/Department: Classical Studies, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
Presentation Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Session: Session 3 (1pm-1:50pm)
Breakout Room: Room 15
Presenter: 2

Event Link


Almagest is the most important and complete text of Astronomy of antiquity, written by the Greek mathematician and astronomer, Claudius Ptolemy in the second century AD. Although the book served as an important guide for astronomers for centuries and even today, there are still some uncertainties regarding how Ptolemy mapped the constellations mentioned in his book into the sky. In this project, we reconstruct Ptolemy’s constellations according to his descriptions and also as seen in the sky during the time the book was being written. We work using Toomer’s English translation of Almagest as a basis and create digital drawings of all 48 of Ptolemy’s constellations with computer graphic programs; these reconstructions will be displayed on a free website to be easily accessible to the public. Ptolemy’s account of astronomy and mathematics in his book provide a deep insight into ancient Greek astronomy. These constellations are also a product of human imagination when people connect the stars in the sky to form shapes and figures that may or may not have been real. Comprehending the meaning behind these descriptions of constellations also allow us to look into their lives through a different perspective and the visual reconstructions also aid us to better understand them.

Authors: Moon Joy, Franscesca Schironi
Research Method: Computer Programming

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