Astronomers look skyward to track Odysseus

June 24, 2008 at 4:40 PM
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NEW YORK, June 24 (UPI) -- Astronomers from North and South America completed their odyssey determining when Odysseus slew his wife's suitors after returning home from the Trojan War.

Astronomers Marcelo Magnasco of Rockefeller University in New York and Constantino Baikouzis of the Observatorio Astronomico de La Plata in Argentina read Homer's "The Odyssey" with a heavenly thought as they looked for astronomical clues about the Trojan War hero's murderous activities following his 10-year journey home from the war, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The date he did the deadly deed? Odysseus raised his bow April 16, 1178 B.C., executing the 100-plus suitors trying to force his wife into marriage.

A big clue was an event believed to be a solar eclipse. Using a computer program the astronomers determined April 16, 1178 B.C., was the day three astrological events intersected: a new moon, Venus was visible six days before the event and 29 days prior, and the constellations Pleiades and Bootes both were visible at sunset.

Their findings, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, still leave many questions unanswered, the Times said, including whether the events really occurred or if Homer was just one heck of a storyteller.

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