Crescent Moon & Star

Home Up Women Astronomers Newsletter Links From the Editor Stores Contact Us Advertising Writer's Guidelines Site Map

 

Crescent Moon and Star:
A Symbol of Supernova 1054?

The symbol of a crescent moon and star has been used since antiquity. The Greeks used it to represent the goddess Diana, the Carthaginians used it to represent their goddess Tanit, and it was used in worship in Central Asia and Siberia. The symbol has been used by cities and to commemorate battles. It has been imprinted on coins, flown on flags, and approximately one thousand years ago, it was painted on the ceiling of a rock canyon in the American southwest. Some of these artifacts may also record the supernova that created one of the jewels of the night sky, the Crab Nebula.

There are several records that document the supernova in 1054. In the records of the Chinese Sung Dynasty, a “guest star” was observed in the constellation of Taurus. A Japanese observation describes a nova as bright as Jupiter and in Arizona, New Mexico, and Baja California, Mexico, indigenous people were painting a crescent moon near a star on canyon walls and boulders. But are these the only records of Supernova 1054?

Background

Not long after becoming interested in archeoastronomy, I was looking through a book with pictures of flags from countries around the world. I was immediately intrigued to see so many flags with a crescent moon and star. Was this a coincidence?

After asking a few times, I was told that the crescent moon with a star are symbols of Islam. The evidence for the response seemed reasonable. Muslims begin some holidays, such as Ramadan, based on the phase of the Moon; their calendar is based on the lunar cycle; they are to visit a holy meteorite in Mecca at least once in their lives; and their religion has roots near Babylonia, known for astronomical observations.

The early Muslims, however, did not use symbols on their flags. They flew solid green, black, or white flags. The crescent moon and star were not used until the Ottoman Empire in 1453 when the Turks conquered Istanbul and adopted the city flag. Was there another reason why this symbol appears on so many Muslim flags? Could they also be a record of Supernova 1054?

Methods

To investigate a possible relationship between the flags and Supernova 1054, I compiled an initial list of flags from the encyclopedic supplements in my Webster’s dictionary. There were eleven flags, five from Africa (Algeria, Angola, Comoros, Mauritania, and Tunisia) and six from Asia (Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Singapore, and Turkey). This is not an exhaustive list of flags, but rather a sampling available from one book and suitable for an initial investigation.

In addition to an image of the flag for each country, the approximate latitude and longitude were obtained, as well as the predominant religions. These data were first sorted by latitude, then by longitude. Countries that were not predominantly Muslim (Angola, Nepal, Singapore, and Mongolia), were then discarded due to the uncertainty of astronomical records from other religions (Appendix A).

To determine if the orientations of the crescent moon and star on the flags were feasible, Starry Night Pro astronomy software was used. The location and the date of July 4, 1054 were entered for a small sample of the remaining flags in Appendix A. This line of investigation was terminated due to time constraints, though this would be an interesting pursuit.

Discussion

My initial examination of the graphs in Appendix A showed some interesting relationships, such as the opposite orientation between Comoros and Pakistan in Graph 2. These two countries are separated by 42 degrees, nearly 4,600 kilometers. I attempted to verify this relationship using the astronomy software. The results were interesting, however, due to the limitations of the software, no conclusions can be made. As mentioned, this would be an interesting line of investigation.

Another interesting relationship was the change in position of the star in relation to the crescent moon in Graph 2 (Appendix A). As the Moon moves west, the star appears outside the crescent in the Turkish flag, is between the two ends of the crescent on the Tunisian flag, and inside the crescent on the Algerian flag. It appears that this apparent movement of the star may be a result of the natural progression of the Moon across longitudes.

These alignments may, of course, be coincidental. With the proper tools and references, however, they may be verified or disputed beyond a doubt. A more comprehensive list of flags would add to the validity of such a course of investigation, as would research into the histories of the crescent moon and star symbols on the flags.

Conclusion

This was an interesting line of study. As mentioned, there is much more that could be done to quantify this line of investigation. As I was doing my research, additional questions arose. Is there a connection with the pictographs in the American southwest? Do these relics share a common denominator with the flags of Muslim countries? Is the position of the crescent moon and stars in Anasazi art of any significance? Are there additional relics that may be examined during this course of investigation?

The year of Supernova 1054 has been confirmed. The exact date, however, is still in debate. Would a closer examination of the records found in flags and Anasazi rock art hold the key to the moment the Crab Nebula began?

Archeoastronomy is not a science. It is, however, an interdisciplinary study by astronomers, archeologists, anthropologists, historians, and others. There may be parts of this line of study that are pure conjecture. There may also be aspects that would stand the scrutiny of the scientific method. Ancient relics and records of human civilizations are still being recovered, such as the recently discovered star map by Hipparchus found on the statue of Atlas carrying a globe. Re-examining old records with fresh eyes and new insight would increase our understanding of past cultures and may tell the whole story of Supernova 1054.

 

Appendix A

Graph 1, sorted by latitude, south to north.

Comoros

12.10S, 44.15E

Sunni Muslim 98%, Roman Catholic 2%

Malaysia

2.30N, 112.30E

Islam, Buddhism, Daoism, Hinduism, Christianity, Sikhism

Mauritania

20.00N, 12.00W

Muslim 100%

Algeria

28.00N, 3.00E

Sunni Muslim 99%

Pakistan

30.00N, 70.00E

Muslim 97% (Sunni 77%, Shi’a 20%), Christian, Hindu and other 3%

Tunisia

34.00N, 9.00E

Muslim 98%, Christian 1%, Jewish and other 1%

Turkey

39.00N, 35.00E

Muslim 99.8% (mostly Sunni), other 0.2% (Christians and Jews)

Graph 2, sorted by longitude, east to west.

Malaysia

2.30N, 112.30E

Islam, Buddhism, Daoism, Hinduism, Christianity, Sikhism

Pakistan

30.00N, 70.00E

Muslim 97% (Sunni 77%, Shi’a 20%), Christian, Hindu and other 3%

Comoros

12.10S, 44.15E

Sunni Muslim 98%, Roman Catholic 2%

Turkey

39.00N, 35.00E

Muslim 99.8% (mostly Sunni), other 0.2% (Christians and Jews)

Tunisia

34.00N, 9.00E

Muslim 98%, Christian 1%, Jewish and other 1%

Algeria

28.00N, 3.00E

Sunni Muslim 99%

Mauritania

20.00N, 12.00W

Muslim 100%

Please note, the papers on this site are for your enjoyment only and are not peer reviewed. When originally written, they included citations. These have been removed to protect the innocent and to deter plagiarism.

 

Updated 01.01.2008
theWoman Astronomer © 2001-2008

Home ] Women Astronomers ] Newsletter ] Cosmic Campus ] Links ] From the Editor ] Stores ] Contact Us ] Advertising ] Writer's Guidelines ] Site Map ]