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Ancient Mesopotamia
Sky-Watching in Mesopotamia



Sky-Watching in Mesopotamia
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 7 to 9
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.03

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    astrologists, double-hour, double-hours, emesh, enten, heavenly, likewise, constellation, solar, basis, width, average, sunset, astronomer, among, based
     content words:    Edmond Halley, Big Dipper


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Sky-Watching in Mesopotamia
By Vickie Chao
  

1     Do you know what your zodiac sign is?
 
2     The zodiac is an imaginary belt in the heavens extending about 8 degrees to either side of the sun's path. Since this imaginary belt is rather long, astrologists from Mesopotamia made up a rule to divide it into twelve equal parts. They decreed that each part be 30 degrees wide. And they named it after a constellation (a cluster of stars) nearby. Collectively, those twelve parts became the zodiac signs we know today.
 
3     Observing the sky was a very important activity in Mesopotamia. That was true for all the civilizations -- Sumerian, Babylonian, and Assyrian -- that sprang forth from there. Looking at the sky helped them track the day of the year. That was precisely how the Sumerians created their first calendar. They based it on the phases of the moon.

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