 
Summary: Heavenly Mathematics & Cultural Astronomy: A Course at
the National University of Singapore
Helmer Aslaksen
Dept. of Mathematics
National University of Singapore
Singapore 119076
Singapore
Abstract. I have introduced a general education course called Heavenly Mathematics and Cultural Astronomy [2] at the
National University of Singapore. The goal of this course is to study astronomy in a cultural context with a tropical emphasis.
Most astronomy books are written from a high northern latitude point of view, but Singapore is almost on the equator, so I
aim to be "hemisphericallycorrect". Singapore is also a multiracial society, where public holidays are determined using the
Gregorian, Chinese, Islamic and Indian calendars.
The course starts with an introduction to observational astronomy with an emphasis on the appearance of the Sun and the
Moon from different parts of the world. I then give a fairly detailed description of the Gregorian, Chinese, Islamic and Indian
calendars [1, 4, 5], and finish with a thorough discussion of the analemma, equation of time and navigation [3].
Being a mathematician, my approach is quite mathematical, but my emphasis is on geometrical reasoning. Formulas
and computations may scare some students away, but they are surprisingly willing to struggle with complicated spatial
visualization.
Keywords: Astronomy, calendars, analemma
PACS: 01.40.d
