Syria in the 14th century was the scene of the most sophisticated developments in astronomy anywhere in the world. Shams al-Din al-Khalili was a muwaqqit, or mosque astronomer, in Damascus in the middle of that century. He was a colleague of the better-known Ibn al-Shatir, whose new planetary models were adopted 150 years later by Copernicus, and who constucted the most sophisticated sundial known to us. He was also a late contemporary of Ibn al-Sarraj of Aleppo, who constructed the most sophisticated astrolabe ever conceived, universal, that is, serving all terrestrial latitudes, in five different ways.
Al-Khalili and the Culmination of Spherical Astronomy in 14th-Century Damascus
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