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Astronomical Observations in the Maghrib in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries

  • Julio Samsó (a1)

An Andalusian tradition of zījes seems to have been predominant in the Maghrib due to the popularity of the zīj of Ibn Is[hdotu]āq al-Tūnisī (fl. Tunis and Marrakesh ca. 1193–1222) and derived texts compiled in the fourteenth century. This tradition computed sidereal planetary longitudes and allowed the calculation of tropical longitudes by using trepidation tables based on models designed in al-Andalus by Abū Is[hdotu]āq ibn al-Zarqālluh (d. 1100). This tradition also used Ibn al-Zarqālluh's model to calculate the obliquity of the ecliptic, which implied that this angle had a cyclical period of oscillation between a maximum of 23;53° and a minimum of 23;33°: after reaching this minimum value the obliquity of the ecliptic was bound to increase. This paper argues that some new Maghribi sources give information on observations made in the Maghrib in the fourteenth and beginning of the fifteenth centuries that imply that precession had increased beyond the limits allowed by the Zarqāllian trepidation theory, while the obliquity of the ecliptic had diminished below the level accepted by astronomers who followed Ibn al-Zarqālluh. This explains the introduction in the Maghrib of Eastern zījes, which computed directly tropical longitudes and did not accept the cyclical variation of the obliquity. Information about observations of dawn and twilight made both in Egypt and in the Maghrib in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries is also presented.

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Science in Context
  • ISSN: 0269-8897
  • EISSN: 1474-0664
  • URL: /core/journals/science-in-context
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