"In every generation and among every nation, there are a few individuals with the desire to study the workings of nature; if they did not exist, those nations would perish."
-- Al-Jahiz, The Book of Animals
In 185 AD, Chinese astronomers recorded a supernova. Among more detached details of its appearance, there is this: "It was like a large bamboo mat. It displayed the five colors, both pleasing and otherwise."