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What was Ancient Arab Astronomy ?

Updated on January 1, 2014

The Arabs were the ones after the decline of Greek studies and the entrance of the West in a phase of darkness during the tenth to the fifteenth, continued research in astronomy, leaving an important legacy: translated the Almagest and cataloged many stars with the names used even today as Aldebaran, Rigel and Deneb.

Among the most prominent Arab astronomers include Al Batani, Al and Al Sufi Farghani, an authority on the solar system that calculated the distance to Saturn was 130 million kilometers (the distance is 10 times greater).

The Umayyads, border tribes of Arabs, who had served as auxiliary soldiers and were Hellenized Romans, are the spearhead for the introduction of scientific activity in the Arab world.

Maragheh Observatory


In 700 the Umayyads in Damascus founded an astronomical observatory. Al-Mansur in 773 commanded astronomical works translated into Hindus, termed Siddhanta.

In 829 Mamum Al-founded the observatory in Baghdad, where he developed studies on the obliquity of the ecliptic. For his part, Al-Farghani manufactures, shortly thereafter, "The Book of the meeting of the stars," an extraordinary catalog of very precise measurements of the stars.

Al-Battani, one of the astronomical geniuses of the time, worked in his Ar-Raqqa observatory, on the banks of the Euphrates River to determine and correct the major astronomical constants. Their measurements of the obliquity of the ecliptic and precession of the equinoxes, were more accurate than Ptolemy.

In 995 Al-Hakim founded the city of Cairo, the "House of Science" and soon after, around 1000, Ibn Yunis compiled the astronomical observations of the past 200 years and published the "Tables Hakenitas" by his patron, Al-Hakim. At the same time, Avicenna or Ibn Sina developed his "Compendium of the Almagest" and an essay on "the futility of astrological divination."

In 1080 Azarquiel developed the "Tables Toledan" used for over a century to establish the movement of the planets.

Arabic astronomers began to reject the conception of Ptolemaic epicycles long before the Renaissance in Europe, since according to him, the planets must revolve around a central body and not around a point. In this conception special role played Averroes, and Alpetragio Abúqueber.

In 1262 Nasir al-Din al-Tusi (Mohammed Ibn Hassan), assisted by Chinese astronomers, successfully completed the construction of Maragheh observatory. Modified the model of Ptolemy, drawn by high precision of the movements of the planets.


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