Arab astronomy



  • Astronomy flourished in the Arab world especially between the decline of Rome and about AD 1200, after which the major emphasis of astronomical progress moved to Europe. Now Arab countries are taking a renewed interest in astronomy, with plans for large telescopes and observatories, although the accomplishment of such plans depends upon oil prices and other economic and political issues. As well as making their own astronomical discoveries (usually dismissed by Western writers), the Arab astronomers of the period up to the 12th century were the guardians of the work of Greek and Egyptian scientists like Aristotle, long forgotten in the West. Their own discoveries included work on planetary observations, and transmitting to the West the system of ‘Arab’ numerals (in fact of Indian origin) including the zero, which is the basis of all modern mathematics.