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ISLAMIC Astrology And Astronomy

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Author Topic: ISLAMIC Astrology And Astronomy  (Read 7807 times)
Bianca
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« Reply #45 on: May 18, 2009, 09:28:26 am »









The observatory at Maragha was founded by the famous mathematician Nasir al-Din al-Tusi in 1259, one year after the fall of Baghdad to the Mongols. Because the Mongol invasions into the lands of Islam had opened a land route to China, Muslim astronomers were eventually able to work together with their Chinese counterparts.


The main theoretical work done at the observatory had to do with simplifying the Ptolemaic model and bringing it into line with the Aristotelian model, which postulated uniform circular orbits for the planets. Although they were often misguided, they made very important contributions; Ibn al-Shatir, for example, came up with models of the movement of the moon and of Mercury that are strikingly similar to those of Copernicus.


The observatory of Ulugh Beg at Samarkand, built between 1420 and 1437, (See Aramco World, January-February 1976; July-August 1984) was used to recompute the positions of the stars in Ptolemy's catalog, and there is little doubt that the organization of this observatory and the instruments employed there influenced TychoBrahe's observatories at Uraniborg and Stjerneborg.


Another observatory thought to have influenced Tycho Brahe was that proposed and built in Istanbul in the 16th century. In 1571 in Istanbul, Taqi al-Din Mohammed ibn Ma'ruf, a former judge from Egypt and author of several books on astronomy, was appointed head-astronomer of the Ottoman Empire and immediately proposed construction of an observatory. He wanted to begin the urgent task of updating the old astronomical tables describing the motion of the planets, the sun and the moon. His request was well received by the Grand Vizier and patron of sciences, Sokullu Muhammad, but between 1571 and 1574 the Ottomans had to fight no less than three costly wars against the three major powers of Europe, Venice, Spain and Portugal, so it was not until mid-1577 that the project was completed. Taqi al-Din's observatory consisted of two magnificent buildings, perched high on a hill overlooking the European section of Istanbul and offering an unobstructed view of the night sky. Much like a modern institution, the main building was reserved for the library and the living quarters of the technical staff, while the smaller building housed an impressive collection of instruments built by Taqi al-Din himself - including a giant armillary sphere and a mechanical clock for measuring the position and speed of the planets; aware that Europe was beginning to move ahead in astronomy he was determined to restore the Islamic world's once uncontested supremacy.
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