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Astronomy and Astrology in the Islamic World

Stephen P. Blake

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Surveys the contributions of Islamic astronomers and mathematicians to the development of astronomy and astrology

It was the astronomers and mathematicians of the Islamic world who provided the theories and concepts that paved the way from the geocentric theories of Claudius Ptolemy in the second century AD to the heliocentric breakthroughs of Nicholas Copernicus and Johannes Kepler in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Algebra, the Arabic numeral system, and trigonometry: all these and more originated in the Muslim East and undergirded an increasingly accurate and sophisticated understanding of the movements of the Sun, Moon, and planets. This nontechnical overview of the Islamic advances in the heavenly sciences allows the general reader to appreciate (for the first time) the absolutely crucial role that Muslim scientists played in the overall development of astronomy and astrology in the Eurasian world.

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List of Colour PLates
Chapter One: From Egypt to Islam
Chapter Two: Muhammad to the Seljuqs
Chapter Three: Observatory at Isfahan
Chapter Four: Astronomy and Astrology in Al-Andalus
Chapter Five: Observatory at Maragha
Chapter Six: Observatory at Samarqand
Chapter Seven: Observatory at Istanbul
Chapter Eight: Observatory at Shahjahanabad
Chapter Nine: Conclusion
Select Bibliography

About the Author

Stephen Blake is Associate Professor Emeritus at St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota. His books include Shahjahanabad: The Sovereign City in Mughal India, 1639-1739 (Cambridge University Press, 2002); Half the World: The Social Architecture of Safavid Isfahan, 1590-1722 (Mazda, 1999); and Time in Early Modern Islam: Calendar, Ceremony, and Chronology in the Safavid, Mughal, and Ottoman Empires (Cambridge University Press, 2013).


‘a detailed yet readable account of personalities and locations linked to the use and development of algebra, the Arabic numeral system, trigonometry, and the astronomical charts known as the zij… which provides access to this specialized field without burdening the reader with extensive technical information.’

- Mohammad Mesbahi, The Islamic College, London, Journal of Shi‘a Islamic Studies

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