Many museums still have
these models. The astrolabe was
used to determine the
altitude of the planets and to define time.
The Muslims' Contribution to Astronomy
the Muslims translated books on astronomy from the previous civilizations,
they corrected, edited, and added to them. As far as this science is
concerned, the Muslims were not only involved in theories, but they also
made practical endeavors as represented in their observations.
Contemporary astronomers unanimously agree that the results found by Muslim
astronomers were of great importance. Among such results are:
Muslims were the first to prove by experiment, observation, and calculation
the fact that the earth is oval shaped.
Muslim scientists such as Al-Farghaani and Ibn Rustah calculated the
distance of the sun, the moon, Venus, Mars, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter
from the center of the earth. Al-Battaani estimated that the distance of the
sun, in its farthest ephemeris, equals 1,146 times the radius of the earth.
When it is in its nearest position, it equals 1,070 times the radius of the
earth. If it is in a middle position, it equals 1,108 times the radius of
the earth. These numbers are surprisingly very close to the numbers
estimated by contemporary scientists.
Ibn Al-Haytham invented the first camera in human history. He called it "The
dark safe with a hole". It was a box coated from inside with the color black
and it had a hole in one side and an external sanded plate on the other.
Muslim astronomers used this camera
in their observatories as clear pictures of stars and planets appeared on
the glass plate. This helped to determine their dimensions and discover new
stars that still have Arabic nomenclatures until now.
scientists drew colored maps of the sky. `Abdur-Rahmaan As-Soofi wrote a
book entitled "Pictures of the Fixed Planets". The book covers the fixed
stars and it contained colored maps. The book contains the positions of one
thousand stars, all of which were observed by him personally. He also
provided a precise description of these stars and accurately re-determined
their dimensions in a way that is very close to modern estimations.
scientists developed solar calendars that far excelled the previous ones as
far as their precision is concerned. They calculated the days of the solar
year as 365 days, six hours, nine minutes, and ten seconds. There are only
two minutes and 22 seconds difference between this estimation and modern
addition to inventing the first airplane, the Andalusian scientist, `Abbaas
Ibn Firnaas, was also the first person to invent the planetarium. In his
house, he built a large dome in which the stars could be seen, as well as
celestial bodies, meteors, thunder, and lightening. Princes, scientists, and
high ranking people used to visit him and admire his invention.
scientists on the moon
clearest proof of the excellence of Muslim scientists in astronomy and their
contributions, is that the World Astronomical Association has chosen
eighteen Muslim scientists and decided to put their names on the
geographical features of the moon as a way of giving credit to their
researches on space and the role they played in assisting man to land on the
moon. Some of these scientists are: Ibraaheem Al-Fazaari, Muhammad Al-Farghaani,
Abu Rayhaan Al-Beerooni, Jaabir Ibn Hayyaan, Ibn Battootah, the famous
explorer, and `Umar Al-Khayyaam who, in his observatory, made significant
researches on the rotation of the planets around the sun.
The most famous
Muhammad Ibn Jaabir Ibn Sinaan Al-Battaani
was born in Battaan, Hurraan in 244 A.H. His title is derived from the town
where he was born. Many scientists consider him to be one of the world
geniuses who set important theories and made innovative researches in
astronomy, algebra, and trigonometry. He was especially famous for observing
the planets and celestial bodies although he did not have the precise
instruments used by astronomers nowadays, yet he managed to make some
observations that still draw the admiration and wonder of scientists. He
died in 317 A.H., 929 A.C.
Yoonus Al-Misri: His name
is `Ali Ibn `Abdur-Rahmaan Ibn Ahmad Ibn Yoonus Al-Misri. He was one of the
most famous mathematicians and astronomers who came after Al-Battaani. The
Fatimids in Egypt held him in high esteem. They were very generous to him,
and built him an observatory on Mount Muqattam and provided it with all the
required instruments and devices. Ibn Yoonus invented the pendulum, although
many people mistakenly believed that the famous Italian scientist Galileo
(died in 1642) was its inventor. The fact that he was its inventor was
actually proven by European scientists themselves.
His name is Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Abu Ar-Rayhaan Al-Beerooni.
He was born in 362 Ah., 973 A.C. in Khuwaarazm. He was very intelligent. He
mastered many sciences and conducted detailed researches. He made several
inventions in mathematics, astronomy, and physics.
He made great
contributions to astronomy. He pointed out that the earth rotates on its
axis and he wrote the most famous book on astronomy in the fifth Hijri
century. He set a theory called "Al-Beerooni's Rule" for determining the
axis of the earth. He wrote more than 120 books and some of them have been
translated into English, French, and German. He died in 440 A.H. 1048 A.C.
now, astronomy has many terms of Arabic origin such as the names of planets
and zodiacs. This proves the excellent contribution to this science by
Muslim scientists. Examples of such names are:
Famul - hout