Importance Of Astrolabes

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The world of Islam is that of a rich and prosperous culture, contributing a vast array of advances in fields such as the arts and sciences, including one of many – astronomy. A major astronomical development was the use of the astrolabe, which helped to shape the ever growing way of Islamic life. Astrolabes are an astronomical instrument used by astronomers, navigators, and astrologers alike. They were originally invented by the Greeks to chart the stars, however, during the Abbasid Dynasty, the Abbasids were the first to use and develop them for various other purposes to improve their lives as Arabs. The earliest surviving Islamic astrolabes date back to the ninth century. They became more abundant by the eleventh and twelfth centuries, where they were made useful in a plethora of aspects, such as for astrology, weather, calculating Qiblah and prayer times, determining the lunar calendar, poetry and art, and influence on both religious and secular architecture.2
The initial intention of the astrolabe was for astrological purposes, as to cast horoscopes by predicting the relative position and angles of the Sun, Moon, stars, and other planets. Originally, this process would have been one of great effort and calculation, where only mathematicians were able of conquering. However, with the invention of the astrolabe, this process became achievable by many other groups of people as well. Collections of tables have been found included with the treatises of astrolabes indicating the method used to calculate the longevity of a person’s lifespan based off the astronomical data collected. Some smaller astrolabes have also been found with scales purely made for astrological use.3 Considering the very limited space on such a small instru...

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...bes still have somewhat of a use today. They can still be of use when needing to calculate astronomical problems concerning sidereal time or modern civil time.20
The history of Islam presents to the world a rich culture nothing less of innovation and finesse, one that continues to flourish even today. Islamic intellectuals and scholars have made major contributions to the advancement of the arts and sciences across the globe. A field that combines both of these aspects is the study of astronomy and in particular, the use of the astrolabe in this specific field. The Islamics have proven the astrolabe to be a work of art that shines not only in its performance but also in its aesthetics. With such versatility, this instrument has heavily influenced both religious and secular life throughout history, leaving the people of Islam an unwavering legacy for years to come.

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