What Was Astronomy Used for in Ancient Times?

Astronomy is the study of celestial objects, such as stars, planets, and galaxies. It has been around for thousands of years and was an important part of ancient cultures. In this article, we’ll take a look at what astronomy was used for in ancient times.

The Beginnings of Astronomy

Astronomy can be traced back to ancient civilizations like the Babylonians, Egyptians, and Greeks. These cultures were fascinated by the stars and used them for various purposes.

Calendar Making

One of the most important uses of astronomy in ancient times was for calendar making. The Babylonians were one of the first cultures to develop a calendar based on the phases of the moon. They observed that there were roughly 12 lunar cycles in a year and used this knowledge to create a lunar calendar.

The Egyptians also used astronomy to create their calendar. They observed that Sirius, also known as the Dog Star, rose just before the Nile River flooded each year. This helped them predict when the flood would occur and allowed them to plan their agricultural activities accordingly.

Navigational Purposes

Astronomy was also used for navigational purposes in ancient times. The Greeks were some of the first people to use stars for navigation. They observed that certain stars always appeared in certain positions in the sky and used this knowledge to navigate across oceans.

The Vikings also used stars for navigation during their voyages across the Atlantic Ocean. They observed that Polaris, also known as the North Star, always appeared directly above the North Pole and used this star to navigate.

Religious Significance

Many ancient cultures believed that celestial objects had religious significance. The Babylonians believed that certain constellations represented their gods and goddesses. The Greeks also associated their gods with certain constellations.

In Egypt, astronomical events like eclipses were seen as signs of the gods’ displeasure. The priests would perform rituals to appease the gods and prevent disaster.


In conclusion, astronomy was used for a variety of purposes in ancient times. It was used for calendar making, navigation, and had religious significance. These early observations were the foundation for modern astronomy and continue to influence our understanding of the universe today.

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