9 Historical Mysteries Solved By Astronomy
Halibutboy Flatface stashed this in Science
Calculating the phases of the moon and dates mentioned in long ago chronicles is no joke -- partly due to the never-ending rathole that is different calendar systems! It practically takes an astronomer to figure out what the conditions might have been when Stonewall Jackson was killed or where Julius Caesar actually landed on the British Isles, using clues from history.
My favorite stories were Lincoln (7) and van Gogh (8):
8. What is the bright object in Van Gogh's White House at Night?
Olson's team has done a lot of investigations into paintings — the works of Claude Monet, Edvard Munch, and more. Naturally, Vincent van Gogh, with his brilliant celestial paintings, is of particular interest, and the team decided to look into his White House at Night to figure out what the brilliant, star-like object that he painted in the sky actually is.
Interestingly, Olson's team discovered that the house in Auvers-sur-Oise commonly identified as the White House is not, in fact, the house Van Gogh painted. Rather, it was a different house in the town which has since been renovated. Once they were able to identify the correct location, the team was able to calculate the position of the objects in the sky while Van Gogh painted it. The brilliant object, they concluded, is Venus.