Add a Comment to this Note (list members only)
Dead medium: the Astrolabe in Islam
From: kadrey@well.com (Richard Kadrey)
Source(s): http://myhouse.com/mc/planet/astrodir/ASTROLAB.HTM (((kadrey remarks: This page was constructed and written by James E. Morrison, who teaches an Introduction to Astronomy course at Montgomery College at Tokoma Park in Connecticut. If you're really interested in astrolabes, he sells cool, working models through the site.)))

"The Astrolabe in Islam

"The astrolabe was introduced to the Islamic world (Istanbul Observatory) in the eighth and ninth centuries through translations of Greek texts. The astrolabe was fully developed during the early centuries of Islam. Arab treatises on the astrolabe were published in the ninth century and indicate a long familiarity with the instrument (the oldest existing instruments are Arabic from the tenth century, and there are nearly 40 instruments from the 11th and 12th centuries).

"The astrolabe was inherently valuable in Islam because of its ability to determine the time of day and, therefore, prayer times and as an aid in finding the direction to Mecca. It must also be noted that astrology was a deeply imbedded element of early Islamic culture and that astrology was one of the principle uses of the astrolabe. (...) .

"Persian astrolabes became quite complex, and some were genuine works of art. There are a number of interesting stylistic differences between astrolabes from the eastern Islamic areas (the Mashriq), Northern Africa (the Maghrib) and Moorish Spain (Andalusia). The astrolabe was also used in Moslem India in a simplified and less artistic form."

Richard Kadrey (kadrey@well.com)