Charting the Sky

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At an ancient fort in northeastern Italy, archaeologists uncovered a 2,400-year-old detailed map of the night sky – including a mysterious star that vanished thousands of years ago, the Miami Herald reported.

About the size of a car tire, the man-made celestial map, dating to between 1800 and 400 BCE, was etched into a circular stone and made up of 29 engravings that closely aligned with the stars we still see at night, including the constellations of Orion and Scorpius, the research team wrote in a new study.

The team noted that one of the stars, however, did not match up with an existing star, sparking speculations about what it might be.

“One intriguing possibility is that a bright star was present in that position that produced a supernova or more likely a failed supernova, leaving a black hole as a remnant,” they said.

While it might be one of the oldest depictions of the night sky, the researchers pointed out that creating the map did not require extreme knowledge of the universe.

“A unit of measurement of angular distances such as the width of a hand finger or a simple ruler are sufficient, together with a very basic ability of elementary counting,” the authors suggested.

They added that the map might have been used to keep track of the seasons, helping people know when to start important farming tasks.

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