EAS Publications Series
Volume 64, 2013Setting a New Standard in the Analysis of Binary Stars
|Page(s)||403 - 404|
|Published online||25 February 2014|
K. Pavlovski, A. Tkachenko and G. Torres (eds)
EAS Publications Series, 64 (2013) 403–404
Did the ancient egyptians discover Algol?
1 Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, Finland
2 Department of World Cultures, University of Helsinki, Finland
Fabritius discovered the first variable star, Mira, in 1596. Holwarda determined the 11 months period of Mira in 1638. Montanari discovered the next variable star, Algol, in 1669. Its period, 2.867 days, was determined by Goodricke (178). Algol was associated with demon-like creatures, “Gorgon” in ancient Greek and “ghoul” in ancient Arab mythology. This indicates that its variability was discovered much before 1669 (Wilk 1996), but this mythological evidence is ambiguous (Davis 1975). For thousands of years, the Ancient Egyptian Scribes (AES) observed stars for timekeeping in a region, where there are nearly 300 clear nights a year. We discovered a significant periodicity of 2.850 days in their calendar for lucky and unlucky days dated to 1224 BC, “the Cairo Calendar”. Several astrophysical and astronomical tests supported our conclusion that this was the period of Algol three millennia ago. The “ghoulish habits” of Algol could explain this 0.017 days period increase (Battersby 2012).
© EAS, EDP Sciences, 2014