Tag Archives: astronomy

The wink of the Gorgon and the twang of the Lyre

The discovery of the archetypal eclipsing binary Algol The likes of Geminiano Montanari are hardly seen today. This remarkable Italian polymath aristocrat from the 1600s penetrated many realms of knowledge spanning law, medicine, astronomy, physics, biology and military technology. Having … Continue reading

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Sneha, snowstorms, the sun and the moon in enigmatic ṛk-s

That the Indo-European homeland was a cold place with snow is evidenced by widespread survival of two hon-homologous words for snow. Recently, a discussion on one of these words, sparked by some linguist, landed on my timeline on Twitter. From … Continue reading

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Making an illustrated Nakṣatra-sūkta and finding the constellation for a point in the sky

The illustrated Nakṣatra-sūkta Towards the latter phase of the Vedic age, multiple traditions independently composed sūkta-s that invoked the pantheon in association with their home nakṣatra-s as part of the śrauta Nakṣatreṣṭi or related gṛhya homa-s. Of these oldest and … Continue reading

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Some notes on the Henon-Heiles Hamiltonian system

Anyone familiar with dynamical systems knows of the Henon-Heiles (HH) system. What we are presenting here is well-known stuff about which reams of material have been written. However, we offer certain tricks for visualizing this system that make it easy … Continue reading

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Bṛhaspati-śanaiścarayor yuddham-2020 ityādi

The below is only for information. Parts of it should not be construed as any kind of prognostication on our part. The great Hindu naturalist Varāhamihira describes various kinds of planetary conjunctions or grahayuddha-s in his Brihatsaṃhitā (chapter 17) thus: … Continue reading

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Prakīrṇaviṣayāḥ: Life, brains, warfare and society

1 On big brains An occidentally conditioned person remarked that “we were making bad use of the great brains we have evolved. Instead of using it for human betterment, we were expending it on killing each other with sophisticated weapons.” … Continue reading

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Ruminations on meteorites, organics and water

In our times the Christian Anglo-Saxons were famous for their “war on drugs”. However, in the 1800s, when they lorded over India, they were famous as global drug dealers. On the morning of August 25, 1865 CE around 9:00 AM, … Continue reading

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The Aśvin-s and Rudra

The twin Aśvin-s and Rudra are both Indo-Aryan reflexes of two deity-classes which can be reconstructed as likely being present in the Proto-Indo-European religion. Both are likely to have even deeper roots going back to even earlier religious traditions across … Continue reading

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Mongolica: Knowledge preservation and generation, Bolad Aqa and the like

We had earlier written an essay on the preservation and production of synthetic knowledge by the Chingizid Mongols. Here we discuss a few additional points in that regard. It is clear that throughout the Chingizid clan there was a certain … Continue reading

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Astronomical experiments: a preliminary look at globular clusters

While Alexander von Humboldt was exploring South America he observed a fuzzy object in the constellation of Centaurus and thought that it was a new comet. However, it turned out that it was the globular cluster Centauri. It had already … Continue reading

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Make your own sky map

We live in the age of photo-realism, be it for maps of the world or of the sky – it is a realism that not long ago was beyond the reach of even our vision. That is why even though … Continue reading

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A note on Cepheid variables: reproducing the study of the period-luminosity laws

In the 13th year of our life, when the skies of our city were still tolerably dark, we observed two stars Persei (Algol) and Cephei from our balcony which faced north on every night they were visible. Thus, we reproduced … Continue reading

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A note on the asterisms forming the nakṣatra-s

In Hindu tradition the ecliptic is divided into 27 parts of which correspond to 27 asterisms known as the nakṣatra-s. In the earliest extant layers of our tradition this number is 28 implying division into sectors of or insertion of … Continue reading

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Āryabhaṭa and his sine table

Everyone and his son have written about Āryabhaṭa and his sine table. Yet we too do this because sometimes the situation arises where you have to explain things clearly to a layman who might have some education but is unfamiliar … Continue reading

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Some astronomical experiments

Our interest in stellar evolution began sometime in the 8th year of our life after reading an old but very readable account by the famed Russian scientist George Gamow. It captivated us beyond words but we had to wait until … Continue reading

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nakṣatra-darśanam

Varoli had just completed the synthesis of the xanthine coupled with hydroxymethyluracil and diaminotriazine to test an interesting hypothesis of Somakhya regarding a particular class of DNA-binding proteins. She was putting in considerable effort to finish it off by the … Continue reading

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An astronomical interpretation of the anaḍvān sūkta

This may be seen as a continuation of this note: Anatomy and heavens in the boomorphic universe. The anaḍvān sūkta is an enigmatic sūkta from the Atharvaveda which falls in the same class as other sūkta-s which describe a “boomorphic” … Continue reading

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svabhāṣāyāṃ śāstrīyā śikṣā

As PDF navame varṣe lūtikā tasyāḥ pañca-varṣīyāyai anujāyai varolyai dravyaśāstram aśikṣayat | lūtikā ‘vadat : “priye varoli dhyānena kārṇārpaṇaṃ kuru | atha vakṣyāmy amla-kṣāra-siddhāntaṃ ca lavaṇīkaraṇasya prayogaṃ ca | purve kāle svastyātreyeṇa+asmadīyena dravyavidā+amla-kṣāra-siddhāntaḥ proktaḥ | kāle ‘smin amla-kṣāra-siddhānto arrheniyas ca … Continue reading

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Remembering Raghunathachari

We do not intend to recount the biography of Chintamani Raghunathachari as it is publicly available to anyone interested in the matter. But our intention is simply to talk a little about his life and times. He lived at a … Continue reading

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A rambling expatiation instigated by the self-interview of Robert Burnham, Jr

When we were young, the normally taciturn vaiśya-jyotiṣa once asked us to participate in a peculiar weekly assembly of amateur astronomers that was apparently inspired by none other than the great Lokamānya Ṭilak and was housed in a memorial of … Continue reading

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Comet Lovejoy, C/2014 Q2

On pauṣa kṛṣṇapakṣa 11, kali 5115 (16th Jan 2015) around 8.10 PM, braving the cold of the height of winter (felt like -5°C) we caught sight of śvetaketu in the constellation of Taurus near the 6 mothers of our patron … Continue reading

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The extraordinary case of Comet Holmes

A dhuma-gola was sighted near the head of yayAti, when the kR^iShNa-pakSha moon was passing through kR^ittikA My friend the AghamarShaNa brought to my attention an extraordinary even this evening: The comet Holmes was visible to naked eye. He mentioned … Continue reading

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Comet C/2006 M4 Swan

“On this day a fairly bright shikhI was seen coursing between the tail of the R^ikSha and the pashupAla at the evening time a muhUrta after sunset, on kR^iShNa navamI under puShya nakShatra” Yesterday, Mn as well as Marc and … Continue reading

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Comet Machholz 2004

Comet Machholz 2004 We finally saw comet Machholz 2004 today with my 20X75 binoculars. It shone as fuzz ball in the southern sky, in the constellation of Eridanus (The southern river; the celestial yamunA of the Hindus which leads to … Continue reading

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