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January 21, 2005


Hipparchus' star catalog, long thought lost, has been found. On a statue. In plain sight.

A seven-foot-tall statue at the National Archaeological Museum in Naples, Italy, shows the god Atlas kneeling with a globe weighing on his shoulders. Atlas was sentenced by Zeus to hold up the sky, and the globe is a depiction of the night sky as seen from Earth, with pictures of Aries the ram, Cygnus the swan, Hercules the hero and other animals and people representing 41 constellations. The statue, known as the Farnese Atlas, is the oldest surviving pictorial record of Western constellations. It dates to Roman times, around A.D. 150, and is known to be a copy of an earlier Greek work.

"It was just sitting there, waiting," Dr. Schaefer said.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at January 21, 2005 09:07 AM

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