One night in ancient times, Sappho gazed up at the stars from the Greek island of Lesbos and saw the Pleiades slip slowly below the horizon, providing inspiration for her “Midnight Poem.” Recently, scientists from the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) have used advanced astronomical software to date the composition of the poem to mid-winter or early spring of 570 B.C.E. Only five lines (as translated), the lyric relates the setting of the moon and the star formation to her personal loneliness. A number of other fragments of Sappho’s poetry reference various astronomical observations, leading UTA Professor Manfred Cuntz to identify her as “an informal contributor to early Greek astronomy.”

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Astronomical software accurately dates 2,500-year-old lyric poem