Arab Astronomy

Arab Astronomy

The Arabs were the ones who, after the decline of Greek studies and the entry of Europe into a phase of obscurantism during the ninth to fifteenth centuries, continued research in astronomy.

The Arab astronomers left an important legacy: they translated the Almagesto and cataloged many stars with the names that are still used today, such as Aldebaran, Rigel and Deneb.

Among the most prominent Arab astronomers are Al-batani, Al-Sufi and Al-Farghani, an authority in the solar system that calculated that the distance to Saturn was 130 million kilometers (its distance is 10 times greater).

The Umayyads, one of the Arab border tribes, who had served as Roman auxiliary soldiers and had Hellenized, constitute the spearhead for the introduction of scientific activity in the Arab world.

In 700, the Umayyads founded an astronomical observatory in Damascus. In 773 Al-Mansur ordered the translation of Hindu astronomical works, the Siddhantas.

In 829 Al-Mamúm founded the astronomical observatory in Baghdad, where studies were conducted on the obliqueness of the Ecliptic. For its part, Al-Farghani makes, shortly after, "The book of meeting of the stars", an extraordinary catalog with very precise measurements of the stars.

Al-Battani, one of the astronomical geniuses of the time, worked at his Ar-Raqqa observatory, on the banks of the Euphrates River, to determine and correct the main astronomical constants. His measurements on the obliqueness of the Ecliptic and the Precession of the Equinoxes were more accurate than those made before by Claudio Ptolemy.

In 995 Al-Hakin founded the "House of Science" in the city of Cairo and, shortly after, around 1000, Ibn Yunis compiled the astronomical observations of the last 200 years and published the "Hakenite Tables", called So by his protector, Al-Hakin. At the same time, Avicenna or Ibn Sina elaborated his "Compendium of Almagesto" and an interesting essay on "the uselessness of astrological divination".

In 1080 Azarquiel elaborated the "Toledan Tables", used for more than a century to establish the movement of the planets.

The Arab astronomers began to reject the conception of the Epicycles of Ptolemy long before the rebirth in Europe, since, according to their studies, the planets had to revolve around a central body and not around a point, probably, the Sun. In Averroes, Abúqueber and Alpetragio played a special role in this conception.

In 1262 Nasir al-Din al-Tusi (Mohammed Ibn Hassan), assisted by some Chinese astronomers, successfully completed the construction of the Maragheh observatory. He modified the model of Ptolemy, making highly accurate traces of the movements of the planets.

◄ PreviousNext ►
Astronomy in the Visigoda courtAstronomy in the Middle Ages