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Relative dating does not provide actual numerical dates for the rocks.

Fossils are important for working out the relative ages of sedimentary rocks.

For example, brightest star in the sky in the visible spectrum, the Sirius, has apparent magnitude of -1.4, and the maximum apparent magnitude of Charon, the moon of Pluto, is 15.55 Apparent magnitude is a measure of the intensity of light received from a specific object in the sky.

However, it does not give a measure of the intrinsic brightness of the object.

What is the difference between Absolute and Apparent Magnitude?

For a fossil to be a good index fossil, it needs to have lived during one specific time period, be easy to identify and have been abundant and found in many places. If you find ammonites in a rock in the South Island and also in a rock in the North Island, you can say that both rocks are Mesozoic.

Modern astronomers use a more mathematical approach to this, but the concept has not changed over the time of two millennia. Apparent magnitude is defined as the brightness of a celestial object as measured by an observer on earth, in the absence of the atmosphere.

Apparent magnitude is given with a scale such that the lower the brightness, higher the magnitude and higher the brightness lower the magnitude.

In their investigation, the ancient astronomers needed tools to evaluate their observations, which are not commonly used on more earthly problems.

One such tool is the concept of the magnitude, which Greek astronomer Hipparchus used about 200 years ago.

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