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Al-Battani

(c. 858—929)


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(c. 858–929) Arab astronomer

Al-Battani was the son of a maker of astronomical instruments in Harran (now in Turkey). He worked mainly in Raqqah on the Euphrates (now ar-Raqqah in Syria) and was basically a follower of Ptolemy, devoting himself to refining and perfecting the work of his master. He improved Ptolemy's measurement of the obliquity of the ecliptic (the angle between the Earth's orbital and equatorial planes), the determination of the equinoxes, and the length of the year. He also corrected Ptolemy in various matters, in particular in his discovery of the movement of the solar perigee (the Sun's nearest point to the Earth) relative to the equinoxes. His work was widely known in the medieval period, having been translated by Plato of Tivoli in about 1120 as De motu stellarum (On Stellar Motion), which was finally published in Nuremberg in 1537.


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