Why haven’t we ever heard of Sothis? You might know it better by its Latin name, Sirius.
At 8 light years away, Sirius has a magnitude of -1.4, making it the brightest appearing star in the heavens, besides our sun.
The ancient Egyptians recognized that the rising of Sothis, or Sirius, just before dawn in the summer skies, marked the time of year when the Nile River would begin to overflow. Sirius was also associated with the fertility goddess Isis. As an agricultural civilization, the overflowing Nile brought fertile soil to the land of Egypt, making it a very important time of year: So important, that the rising of Sirius marked the beginning of the Egyptian New Year; and as it turns out, the rising of the star Sirius is a good indicator of a Sidereal Year.
Scientists define a sidereal year as the time it takes the Earth to revolve once around the Sun, relative to other stars: 365.256 days. It just so happens that the rising of Sirius from year to year, known as a ‘Sothic Cycle’, is almost exactly 365.25 days in duration.
A document known as the Canopus Decree, or the table of Tanis, proclaimed a five day national festival at the rising of Sothis in honor of Ptolemy III, his queen and the “Benefactory Gods.” The decree was written in Greek, Demotic and in Hieroglyphs, making it an important key in deciphering hieroglyphic inscriptions.
Since ancient times, man has been a careful observer of the celestial bodies, and those who believe the Bible give thanks to the Creator: “He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.”
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