The Ulugh Beg Observatory in Samarkand, Uzbekistan
How to visit Ulugh Beg Onservatory in Samarkand
The Ulugh Beg is probably my favorite medieval leader. Definitely the most impressive and admiring.
Why? He is one of the leaders that went down in history not by the number of wars and conquered lands or erected mausoleums but by scientific discoveries.
“Religions dissipate like fog, kingdoms vanish, but the works of scientists remain for eternity,” was one of his famous saying and most likely the words he lived by.
Tamerlane’s grandson built one of the world’s first sophisticated observatories and outlined more than 1,000 stars from them.
Who was Mizro Ulugh Beg ?
Ulugbek was a 15th-century humanitarian who became a pathfinder in astronomy, medicine and mathematics. He was also a historian, poet and composer. That sounds like a perfect description of a renaissance person.
The 15th century is historically known as the time of the scientific Islamic renaissance.
What is Ulugh Beg Observatory
The Ulugh Beg Observatory in Samarkand, one of the first and finest in human history, is one of its key remaining monuments of that era. The Gurgan Zij was compiled here – a catalog of astronomical bodies, the most accurate and detailed document in astrology.
The Gurgan Zij or “New Guraganov astronomical tables”. Thirty years of painstaking work and astronomical observations are in this book, one of the world’s astronomers’ bibles.
This atlas includes data about 1018 stars and 38 planets. This document was the key to the rest of the great discoveries made at Ulugh Beg’s observatory.
Ulugh Beg and his team’s discoveries made in an era that did not know what a telescope is would blow your mind.
Ulugbek’s greatest discoveries
Earth’s rotation period relative to the Sun(365 days, 6 hours, 10 minutes, 8 seconds) is determined with an accuracy of a minute.
The sidereal period of the Earth 365 days, 6 hours, 10 minutes, 8 seconds (with an error of + 58 seconds)
Earth’s axial tilt (obliquity)23.52 degrees (the most accurate measurement)
There is a museum with a fantastic display of photographs, old papers, and models that explain Ulugbek’s genius in front of the laboratory, or, better say, its remains.
For 22,000 sum (about $3 ) you can learn about Ulugbek’s life and astronomical discoveries.
In the Catalog of the Starry Heaven, published by Jan Hevelius, there is an engraving depicting a symbolic collection of the world’s greatest astronomers. Astronomers from different centuries and different parts of the world sit at a table; the muse of astronomy, Urania, is sitting with them.
Ulugh Beg’s library
Ulugh Beg was Tamerlan’s grandson. Tamerlan was bringing thousands of great books to Samarkand from his crusades. Under Ulugh Beg, these books were copied. There are legends about Ulugh Beg’s great library that mysteriously disappeared. All traces of it were lost after his death, and nothing was recovered during the observatory excavations.
Such viewpoints were not appreciated by Uzbek aristocracy. At the age of 54, Ulugh Beg was seized and beheaded.