Astronomy is a most popular subject and there is no lack of fascinating information that today's layman might study. Yet few are aware of the type of knowledge men in the second millennium B.C. had access to, nor could the average man care less. "Our ancestors were frightened by the phenomena of the heavens …" and that is close to the sum total of a modern educated scholar's knowledge.
Little of the astronomy of the ancients was set down in words; nor can modern astronomy be described only in words. Thus it has proven - to be a difficult task to tie the necessary information together into a verbally intelligible whole. One must visualize the patterns of the heavens, and that mental picture can then only be presented in the uncommon language of astronomy. Right Ascension, precession, nodes, anomalistic, tropical, First Point of Aries, declination, azimuth, amplitude, and a dozen other very specific terms must not only be understood but be fluently grasped as the reader "sees" the movements of the heavens as they appeared to early man.
"Whether these things are so" is not always clear as research progresses. Nor is it practical to undo the pattern of discovery by presenting final conclusions as fact in Chapter One. Theory is intended to point out areas of potentially profitable search; in this respect it avoids the pitfalls of blind, random research. The intent of research on the perimeter of knowledge is to provoke the next one who passes by to set things in more perfect order.
In doing the final editing and revising, the thought that comes to the fore is that a research paper must be a communication. If written in technical language of astronomy alone, it tends to be incomprehensible to the researchers in other fields. And they are the ones who might profit most by the implications of an astronomy theme. On the other hand, any oversimplification can be a "cure" worse than the ailment. Words like precession and ecliptic must be understood. There is no suitable substitute for the active participation of the reader. A passive approach, treating the facts as the "dead, dry calculations of astronomy" that they are, yields that passive type of reward.
The interrelationships of the heavens are endless. By selecting certain God-given patterns, one branch of mankind has kept its calendar "house" in order; by the, selection of an equally logical (from man's view point) set of patterns in the heavens, the nations of earth have been led "to worship the host of heaven" and were eventually confounded in even their: most precise calculations. A solar year of 365 days worked fine in Egypt and in the Mayan culture of Central America; yet we have the command to the children of Israel as they were preparing to leave Egypt, "This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the a year to you." And the calendar they were given was a lunar-solar in structure. A simple principle of keeping time has separated the courses of nations. What are the implications of this parting of ways to a modern time-regimented world?