Tag Archives: historical astronomy

Making Friends with the Night Sky: Women and the Moon

Our earliest calendar - linking the lunar cycle with the menstruation cycle

Maui astronomer Harriet Witt describes the connection between women and the Moon.

Listen here [2:41m]:

Download here [2.5 Mb]: ftp://space.mit.edu/pub/ajb/radiopio/astrofacts_090804_mfns-womenandmoon.mp3

What’s the facts:

The earliest astronomers may have been women, who discovered that the cycle of the Moon was synchronized with their menstrual cycle.  Having an external cue for this internal cycle would have allowed women to time the birth of their children and perhaps help regulate the population of their tribe or clan in an environment with limited resources.

Our earliest evidence of the connection between the Moon cycle and menstruation cycle – indeed, our earliest evidence of the practice of astronomy – is found on a reindeer bone over 20,000 years old, called the Ishango Bone.  This bone is also believed to be early evidence of the beginning of mathematical thought.  The Ishango bone is one of our first calendars (other ancient calendars also traced the cycles of the Moon).

Original air date 4 August 2009.


Interview with Harriet Witt

The best way to enjoy the night sky

The best way to enjoy the night sky

Charae’ interviews local Maui astronomer Harriet Witt, an international award winning writer and speaker.  She has been teaching astronomy since 1980 and offering astronomy-as-entertainment at Maui resort hotels and teaches “Making Friends with the Night Sky” classes at Maui Community College.  Harriet is also the official astronomer to the annual Maui Film Festival.  Find out more about Harriet at her site, http://www.passengerplanet.com.

Listen here [18:47m]:

Original air date 26 June 2009.