Star Lore around the World


Almost all of our current names of stars and constellations are deeply rooted in history, dating back thousands of years. Researching the origins of these names can offer deep insight in the culture and mythology of ancient societies.

This mythology, called Star Lore is the primary focus of this site. However, to better understand and interpret the stories, a brief history of the astronomy of different cultures might be helpful.

This is by no means a scientific paper on the history of astronomy, but merely an illustrated collection of highlights of that history, along with some links to what we think are reliable sources on the subject.

We have created a number of specific sites highlighting important moments
of the history of astronomy in specific cultures and/or time periods:

Prehistoric Europe

Ancient Mesopotamia

Ancient Egypt

Ancient Greece

Ancient India

Ancient China

Medieval Islam


Age of Discovery

Age of the Telescope

Standards and Measurements

the Space Age

We also created a brief more condensed time line focusing on the development of our constellations:

Ancient Origins

Arabic Influences and the Age of Discovery

Today's 88 Constellationst

There is also a timeline listing all important events in astronomy in chronological order.

You can either go directly to the Timeline,
or - if you are interested in a specific time period - make your selection below.

ca. 35 000 BC

ca. 4000 BC
Prehistoric Records

Stone Age star lore and prehistoric astronomical knowledge has been preserved in ancient art, oral history and neolithic stone circles.
ca. 4000 BC

ca. 600 BC
Early Star Charts and Constellations

Detailed observations of stars and planets are done in Mesopotamia and China. The Zodiac constellations emerge.
ca. 600 BC

700 AD
Mapping the Skies

Mesopotamian, Greek and Egyptian astronomy merge.
Shi Shen in China and Ptolemy in Hellenic Egypt create the first large star catalogues and group stars in constellations.

The Islamic Golden Age

While Europes drops into the Dark Ages, the Islamic world enjoys a prosperous time with many astronomical breakthroughs.

Putting the Sun into the Center

With the Rennaissance, astronomy returns to Europe and scientific debates lead to the development of the heliocentric model by Nicolaus Copernicus in 1543.

Sailing South

The time between Copernicus and Galilei is a time of discovery. European sailors observe the southern sky and add new constellations to the star maps.

All the same, it moves!

The telescope offers new opportunities for astronomy. In spite of the Roman Inquisition still denying the heliocentric model, the time between Galilei and Newton is a time of a new understanding of the structure of the universe.

How the Universe Works

For centuries, astronomer had explained WHAT was out there.
Now, in the time between Newton and Einstein, physicists explain, WHY it was there.

To the Edge of Space and Time

Powerful telescopes and computers allow astronomers to gaze deeper into space than ever before, while humanity's first steps into space ehance the understanding of our place in the universe.

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