13 Moon Positions - REVISITED

Content last updated: 2nd June 2022 09:25 (UTC)

Since we published the original article on the site, we have received much criticism, someone even took the time to published their criticism on academia.edu.

Some of the issues raised by our critics are addressed below.

The lunar six timed events are considered separately in the article Timed Events, where we compare the results of VAT4956 with over 60 other times from other diaries. Since most of these observations do not match well with modern computation we seek to find an alternative method to reconcile the data in the article Babylons Horizon.

VAT4956.com acknowledges that all scholars date the tablet to 568 BC. Therefore, we have to acknowledge that all computer simulations reflect this consensus. If the tablet VAT 4956 is a genuine tablet, based on actual observations, we are interested in whether or not it is theoretically possible for it to be dated to 588 BC. For these reasons, we don't expect the simulations to fit perfectly since they have been fitted to the generally accepted dating for the whole period. (see moon nodes). An astronomy software producer acknowledges:

The true accuracy of positions calculated for prehistoric or future dates is of course unknown. The Moon's position is calculated by a modified version of the lunar theory of Chapront-Touze' and Chapront. This has a precision of 0.5 arc second relative to DE404 for all dates between 1369 B.C. and 3000 A.D. The real position of the Moon in ancient times is not actually known this accurately, due to uncertainty in the tidal acceleration of the Moon's orbit.
- Steve Moshier

The controversial new moons and "thick" description are discussed in New Moon Sightings.

The late start to the year is considered in Late Start.

Do All 13 Sets Of Lunar Positions On VAT 4956 Fit The Year 588/587 B.C.E.?

Information about the software and settings we used can be found in Software

The following reference helped determine the method we followed:

How we will make the measurements?

it appears more reasonable to suppose that the Babylonian astronomers used an ecliptical system

The unit for distance is cubits. Each cubit is said to be 2.2° which is 02°12'.
- Fatoohi, L. J., Stephenson, F. R., & Al-Dargazelli, S. S. - The Babylonian First Visibility of the Lunar Cresent: Data and Criterion (1999) p55

In front ofX is ahead of Y along the ecliptic line.
BehindX is behind Y along the ecliptic line.
AboveX is above Y perpendicular to the ecliptic line.
BelowX is below Y perpendicular to the ecliptic line.
in X is within the constellation of Y
GreenThe position matches that on the tablet; within 1.1° (01°06'00" ; 12 fingers; 1/2 cubit)
Amber The position is borderline; the measured difference is between +/- 1.1° - 1.65° (01°06'00" - 01°39'00" ; 12-18 fingers; 3/4 cubit)
RedThe position does not match the tablet; the measured difference is more/less than 1.65° (01°39'00"; 18 fingers; 3/4 cubit)
Red textThe criteria was met on the day before

The criteria has been adjusted slightly since the last article. We have chosen to use the babylonian measures of 1/2 & 3/4 cubit.(1.1° & 1.65°) instead of 1.0° & 1.5°. This change does affect the results, for example position 4 in 588 BC the measurement between the moon and β Geminorum is 9.823° which is 0.023° more than 1° greater than the 8.800° indicated on the tablet. Using the old criteria this would make this result borderline. Using the new criteria it is now green. The changes did not affect any of the results for the year 568 BC

The results for both years are in the tables below. Follow the link for each position to find more information

#Postion° Dec(UTC+3)Moon °° DecRef °° Dec°
# 1behind the Bull of HeavenBC588-05-02 18:36behind
# 21 cubit in front of β Virginis2.2BC588-05-10 21:00141°59'13"141.987140°39'50"140.6641.323behind
# 34 cubits below β Geminorum8.8BC588-06-01 19:04-03°20'39"3.344+06°28'45"6.4799.823below
# 4behind CancerBC588-06-30 19:09behind
# 51 cubit east of [β Virginis]2.2BC588-07-04 19:30+02°26'18"2.438+00°38'05"0.6351.804east
# 62½ cubits below β Librae.5.5BC588-07-07 22:30+04°17'28"4.291+08°47'03"8.7844.493below
# 73½ cubits above α Scorpii7.7BC588-07-09 22:30+04°30'05"4.501-04°13'56"4.2328.734above
# 8in the SwallowBC587-02-22 18:00in
# 9surrounded by a halo;BC587-02-27 19:00halo
# 10α Leonis 1 cubit below2.2BC587-03-04 22:15115°53'22"115.889114°04'37"114.0771.813behind
# 11behind AriesBC587-03-24 18:10+15°17'44"15.296+14°50'11"14.8360.459behind
# 12 4 cubits below η Tauri8.8BC587-03-25 18:20-04°49'11"4.820+03°47'27"3.7918.611below
# 13surrounded by a halo.BC587-03-30 18:30halo

No.Postion° DecDate (UTC+3)Moon °° DecRef °° Dec°
# 1behind the Bull of HeavenBC568-04-22 18:33behind
# 21 cubit in front of β Virginis2.2BC568-04-29 19:28138°58'38"138.977140°56'39"140.9441.967in front
# 34 cubits below β Geminorum8.8BC568-05-22 19:50-01°01'41"1.028+06°28'51"6.4817.509below
# 4behind CancerBC568-06-20 19:40behind
# 51 cubit east of [β Virginis]2.2BC568-06-23 20:09143°31'57"143.533140°56'47"140.9462.586east
# 62½ cubits below β Librae.5.5BC568-06-27 20:10+04°28'12"4.470+08°46'56"8.7824.312below
# 73½ cubits above α Scorpii7.7BC568-06-29 20:10+03°21'00"3.350-04°14'05"4.2357.585above
# 8in the SwallowBC567-02-12 18:10in
# 9surrounded by a halo;BC567-02-17 18:50halo
# 10α Leonis 1 cubit below2.2BC567-02-22 18:50+03°04'29"3.075+00°20'51"0.3482.727below
# 11behind AriesBC567-03-14 18:00+09°21'36"9.360+15°06'48"15.113-5.753in
# 12 4 cubits below η Tauri8.8BC567-03-15 18:00-03°51'39"3.861+03°47'34"3.7937.654below
# 13surrounded by a halo.BC567-03-20 19:10halo

In addition to these moon positions there is also three others when one god was seen with the other. This expression is used in the two oldest astronomical diaries, it's also something that astrologers look out for concerning omens. Scholars like to draw a distinction between astrological and astronomical text. Is this reference evidence that VAT4956 might be more than an astronomical diary?

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