WHISPERS FROM ABOVE
The story of how we have systematically observed the heavens begins in the days before recorded time. For primitive man, the sun reigned supreme. Its recurring cycles of light and darkness formed the basis for the first organizing principle of our natural world: Day and Night. In fact, the Egyptians explained the sun's daily cycles through the goddess 1)Newt. Her arched body was said to cover the whole earth. Every night she swallowed the sun. It then trailed through her body to rise again the following morning. The sun also provided the most basic natural daily clock. Most primitive people noticed a relationship between time and shadows. And it was in ancient Egypt that the first recorded 2)sundials were found.
But trying to make sense of the heavens gave us more than the natural cycle of day and night.
Ancient man also noticed how the five planets visible to the naked eye twinkled in the night sky. With the sun and the moon, that made seven imposing celestial bodies that would serve as the inspiration for the next basic division of the natural order, the seven-day week. Even today, the influence of the heavens on the days of the week is unmistakable. Sunday is the most straightforward and the first day of the week on many calendars. Monday, or moon day, is also quite simple. But the role played by the heavens in formalizing the days of the week doesn't stop there. Ancient 3)Nordics named their days after seven 4)celestial gods, and the ancient 5)legacy is also clear throughout the Latin based languages of western civilizations. Wednesday is 6)Mercury day, Mecrede in French, Mercoles in Spanish, Mercolade in Italian. Tuesday, 7)Mars day, is Marde in French and Martes in Spanish. In English, in addition to Sun-day and Moon-day, Saturn-day also reveals its ancient roots.
As our ancestors struggled to find explanations in the heavens for the natural events on Earth, after days and weeks, they found the solution to their next challenge, not in the sun but in another heavenly body. From the earliest days of recorded time, we know most people had calculated the cycles of the moon at between twenty-nine and thirty days. Today, the moon's cycle is merely an 8)adornment to the modern clock. Yet, even the word we use to describe a thirty-day period, a month or moon-th, instantly reveals its celestial inspiration. Towering over all these cycles of days, weeks and months is the year, the seasonal year that gave life to crops. Derived from the sun, the greatest of our heavenly bodies, the sun offers the fundamental organizing principle of the modern world. We calculate everything, from our own age to the eras of great civilizations, in this one basic division of time. For most civilizations through the ages, the sun was considered the life giving force to all earthly creatures. And by its cycle, we have ordered and structured our lives.
1) Newt. [nut] n. 纽特（姓氏）
newt 英 [njuːt] 美 [nut] n. 蝾螈；笨蛋；新手
2) sundial n.（通过太阳知道时间的）日晷，日规
3) Nordic n. 北欧人，日耳曼民族
4) celestial a. 天上的
5) legacy n. 遗赠物，（祖先传下的）遗产
6) Mercury n. 墨利丘神（罗马神化中众神的信使，并掌管商业、道路，工匠、盗贼等的保护神）
7) Mars n. 马尔斯（古罗马战神）
8) adornment n. 装饰品