The history of the astrolabe begins more than two thousand years ago, but it is in the Islamic classical world that the astrolabe was highly developed and its uses widely multiplied. Introduced to Europe from Islamic Spain in the early 12th century, it was one of the major astronomical instruments until the modern times. In this concise and beautifully illustrated article, Emily Winterburn casts a short story of the Islamic art of making astrolabes – developing the different varieties, the description of their structure and parts and their uses in social, religious and scientific functions.
Using an Astrolabe
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Figure 1. The Tabula Rogeriana, drawn by al-Idrisi for Roger II of Sicily in 1154, one of the most advanced ancient world maps. Modern consolidation, created from the 70 double-page spreads of the original atlas. (Source)
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