Antikythera Mechanism: Astronomical Computer

Antikythera mechanism was first found in a shipwreck off the coast of the Greek island Antikythera in 1901. By 1902, archaeologist Valerios Stais found that it was some kind of astronomical clock. And almost a century later, the modern imaging technology revealed that the Antikythera mechanism used 30 meshing bronze gears to compensate the irregularities of the Moon’s orbital course. The mechanism was dated to be from 150-100 B.C.

Uses

It was used to follow the movements of the Moon and the Sun through the zodiac. It could also be used to track the four-year cycle of athletic games which was similar to an Olympiad, the cycle of the ancient Olympic Games. Antikythera mechanism was also capable of predicting positions of all known planets of 200 BC – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

Working

The gear system was designed to follow the Metonic cycle, the 235-month pattern that ancient greek astronomers used to predict eclipses. Instrument was based on Hipparchos’ lunar model – researchers even think Hipparchos might have designed the instrument. It even has a black and white stone that turns to show the phases of the moon. Here’s the detailed video by nature

References and Further Reads
  1. Early Astronomical ‘Computer’ Found to Be Technically Complex
  2. An ancient device too advanced to be real gives up its secrets at last

~AK

Published by Anand Krishna

Amateur astronomer and astrophotographer. Interested in astrophoto processing, astrostatistics, comet hunting, visual and radio astronomy.

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