Muslimah scientist who invented astrolabes

Mariam al-Ijliya, known as Mariam al-Astrulabi, took astrolabe science to the next level. More than a thousand years later, she became a central figure in Binti, the science fiction novel by Nnedi Okorafor, a Nigerian-American novelist.

Between the 8th and 15th centuries, Muslim scholars made enormous contributions to the world of science. They found advanced tools in medicine, astronomy, physics, and chemistry.

It was their discovery that inspired subsequent scientists to make new breakthroughs during the Renaissance era.

From Ali al-Qushji to Ulugh Bey and Al-Biruni to Ibn Sina, dozens of works by the great Muslim thinkers of the Middle Ages paved new avenues for the next generation of brilliant.

For example, in terms of astronomy, Muslim scholars improved and perfected the Ptolemaic system. This improvement concerns the mathematical model of the universe formulated by the Alexandrian-born astronomer and mathematician.

Not only this, the extensive contributions of Islamic astronomy also uncovered some weaknesses in the Aristotelian system.

Until the 15th century, during the medieval period, cheap-handed Muslim scientists made various contributions in the field of astronomy. Their work is largely based on ancient sources from Greece, Iran, and India.

However, one specialty that led them to the tower of astronomical glory was the discovery of new devices to measure and calculate the movement of stars and planets.

For example, in terms of astronomy, Muslim scholars improved and perfected the Ptolemaic system. This improvement concerns the mathematical model of the universe formulated by the Alexandrian-born astronomer and mathematician.

Not only this, the extensive contributions of Islamic astronomy also uncovered some weaknesses in the Aristotelian system.

Until the 15th century, during the medieval period, cheap-handed Muslim scientists made various contributions in the field of astronomy. Their work is largely based on ancient sources from Greece, Iran, and India.

However, one specialty that led them to the tower of astronomical glory was the discovery of new devices to measure and calculate the movement of stars and planets.

The astrolabe’s complex design required Mariam to work with complex mathematical calculations and precision. But gradually he was able to master the design.

This work impressed Saif ad-Daulah, the founder of Aleppo, which controls much of northern Syria and parts of western Jazira. He ruled from 944 to 967 AD.

Saif ad-Daulah considers Mariam’s work very complicated but innovative. As his fame began to soar, he decided to hire him in court in Aleppo. In addition, he also helped develop navigation techniques and punctuality.

How Does Mariam’s Astrolabes Work?

Astrolabes are devices made using astral objects such as the sun and stars to indicate your position at latitude, or determine local time. In addition, it can also be used to measure celestial events such as the wobble of the Earth’s axis.

These astronomical instruments consist of a metal or wooden disk with a circumference of markers in degrees and a rotary needle in the center of the disk called an alidade. These devices are useful in determining the position of the sun, moon, and stars.

Ibn Haitam (Alhazen), The Islamic Scientists

Jaman astronomical needs, astrolabes also serve to find the direction of qibla, determine the time of prayer and the early days of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr.

Mariam’s discovery of fruit was used in the subjects of astronomy, astrology, and horoscopes. With the help of astrolabes, astronomers can calculate the position of celestial bodies, the time of day and night, the time of year, the height of objects, latitude and other astronomical information.

Mariam’s important contribution to astronomy was officially recognized when the main belt asteroid, named 7060 Al-Ijliyye, after the discovery of Henry E. Holt at Palomar Observatory in 1990. It is important to note that astrolabes were first discovered by the Greeks to measure latitude.

In 2016, Nnedi Okorafor’s novel Binti with its main character, Mariam, received the Nebula Award. Mariam was the inspiration behind Binti, the protagonist of her science fiction novel.

Okorafor stated that he found out about Mariam at a book festival in the UAE. The main character of Binti’s novel becomes a young woman who is an astrolabe expert.

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