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ISLAMIC Astrology And Astronomy

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Author Topic: ISLAMIC Astrology And Astronomy  (Read 8102 times)
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« Reply #45 on: May 18, 2009, 09:26:59 am »

In the pre-telescope age, observational astronomy was, of course, carried out with the naked eye. Muslim scientists, however, perfected observatories in a number of places; those at Maragha and Samarkand are the most famous. At these observatories, astronomers gathered to refine Ptolemy's coordinates for the stars and, eventually, to revise Ptolemy's catalog of stars. This catalog which gave the positions of 1,022 stars, classified, as they are today, by magnitude, or brightness, was heavily revised, notably by the 10th-century astronomer Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi, whose Book of the Fixed Stars is the earliest illustrated astronomical manuscript known; the copy in the Bodleian Library, the work of the author's son, is dated 1009 and the author expressly states that he traced the drawings from a celestial globe.

There is an even earlier representation of the heavens in an Umayyad hunting lodge built about A. D. 715 in Jordan. It is called Qasr al-'Amra (See Aramco World, September-October 1968; July-August 1980) and in the dome of the bathhouse in the lodge are fragments of a fresco showing some 400 stars and parts of 37 constellations, drawn on a stereographic projection - which implies a familiarity, even at that early date, with Ptolemy's Planispherium.

Arabs also excelled at making astronomical instruments - particularly astrolabes which were used for navigational purposes, for determining the positions of stars and for solving problems in spherical astronomy. There were three sorts of astrolabes: planispheric, linear and spherical. These were used at the observatories of Maragha and Samarkand, and were substantially the same as the instruments used by European astronomers until the invention of the telescope.
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