Astrolabes in Islam

Astrolabes are first of all star clocks, and they were used in the past to tell people when to pray.  Some of the most beautiful astrolabes ever made were made by followers of Islam.  In fact, the Christian west, got knowledge of the astrolabe through Islamic Moorish Spain.  Beautiful Islamic astrolabes will be featured in this special planetarium program commemorating Arabic Heritage Month.

Astrolabes in useThe painting shows workers at the observatory of Taqi al-Din at Istanbul in 1577 (AH 985). Two observers are working with an astrolabe. A universal astrolabe of the saphea form is on the table in front of the man with the dividers and paper.  Astrolabe quadrants and a large number of other geographic measuring devices are being used in the painting.

The painting is from Shahinshah-nama (History of the King of Kings), an epic poem by 'Ala ad-Din Mansur-Shirazi, written in honor of Sultan Murad III (reigned 1574-95 [AH 982-1003]).

PowerPoint presentation used on April 6, 2006.

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Web page by Dr. Harold Alden Williams.
Last changed 9:33P.M. April 13, 2006