105 results in English
The Ash Wednesday Supper
La cena de le Ceneri (The Ash Wednesday supper), the first of Giordano Bruno’s six Italian philosophical dialogues, was first published in London in 1584. The title page indicates neither the place of publication nor the publisher, but scholars agree that the book was printed at the London shop of John Charlewood. The work is dedicated to the French ambassador to the English court, Michel de Castelnau, sieur de la Mauvissière, who assisted Bruno after his arrival in London in 1583. The book is divided into five dialogues and ...
Muḥammad al-Farghānī’s Elements of Chronology and Astronomy
This work is a Latin translation of al-Farghānī’s influential and well-known Kitāb jawāmiʿ ʿilm al-nujūm wa uṣūl al-ḥarakāt al-samāwīya (Book of generalities of astronomy and bases of celestial motions). Aḥmad ibn Moḥammad ibn Kathīr al-Farghānī was an astronomer who flourished at the court of the early Abbasid caliphs. He appears to have been active in the court of al-Ma’mun. If he is the same figure who is said to have been entrusted by al-Mutawakkil with the construction of the nilometer in Cairo, then he would have been active ...
Contributed by Qatar National Library
The Three Books on Alchemy by Geber, the Great Philosopher and Alchemist
Jābir ibn Hayyan (also known by his Latinized name Geber, circa 721–815) was a contemporary of the first Abbasids, who ruled circa 750–800, and one of the principal proponents of alchemy in the early Islamic period. The earliest biography of Jābir, in al-Fihrist, was written in the tenth century by Ibn al-Nadīm, a scholar and bibliographer living in Baghdad. It contains a fair number of legendary elements, although the list of works attributed to Jābir in this work has been shown by external evidence to be generally correct ...
Contributed by Qatar National Library
Compendium of Latin Translations of Persian Astronomical Tables
This volume is a compendium of six works that includes Latin translations of portions of the Zīj-i Sulṭānī by Muḥammad Ṭaraghāy ibn Shāhrukh ibn Tīmūr (1394–1449), known as Ulugh Beg. The other works include an excerpt from the Taqwīm al-Buldān (entitled “A Description of Khwārazm and Transoxiana from the Tables of Abū al-Fidāʾ”) by Abū al-Fidāʾ Ismāʿīl Ibn ʿAlī (1273-1331), and a star table by Muhammad ibn Muhammad Tizīnī. Ulugh Beg (“Great Commander” in Turkish) was a grandson of Tīmūr (known in the West as Tamerlane) and the ...
Contributed by Qatar National Library
Abū Ma‘shar’s Eight Treatises Regarding the Great Conjunctions, the Annual Revolutions, and Their Origins
Ja‘far ibn Muḥammad al-Balkhī (787–886), known as Abū Ma‘shar (and as Albumasar in the Latin West), was one of the most-renowned astronomers of the Middle Ages. His fame in Europe rested upon numerous Latin translations of his astronomical works from the original Arabic. He was born in the Persian city of Balkh (present-day Afghanistan), on 20th of Ṣafar, 171 AH (August 10, 787). He most likely received his early education in Balkh prior to moving to Baghdad, as his works are often colored by a distinct Persian ...
Contributed by Qatar National Library
Muḥammad al-Farghānī’s Elements of Chronology and Astronomy
Aḥmad ibn Moḥammad ibn Kathīr al-Farghānī (flourished 861) was an astronomer who worked at the court of the early Abbasid caliphs. He appears to have been active in the court of al-Ma’mun, and he may well be the same figure who is said to have been entrusted by al-Mutawakkil with the construction of the nilometer in Cairo.  In that case, he would have been active from the early decades of the ninth century to his death in 861 (spanning the rules of al-Ma’mun, al-Muʿtaṣim, al-Wāthiq, and ...
Contributed by Qatar National Library
Imperial Calendar in the Third Year of Emperor Jia Jing’s Reign in the Ming Dynasty
The Da Ming Jiajing san nian datong li (Imperial calendar, or great universal system of calculating astronomy) is based upon the system of calendrical astronomy developed by the astronomer Guo Shoujin during the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368). It was officially adapted by the Ming Bureau of Astronomy in 1384. It specified the phases of the moon and contained predictions of when lunar and solar eclipses would occur. The great Chinese navigator Zheng He used Guo Shoujing's methods to determine latitude and longitude on his voyages to the Pacific and Indian ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The Celestial Threads
Yazep Drazdovich (1888–1954), a versatile figure in the history of Belarusian culture, worked in different areas of art as a painter, sculptor, ethnographer, archeologist, and teacher. One of the founders of the school of national historical painting, he was called a Belarusian Leonardo Da Vinci and a Belarusian Tsiolkovskii (after the Russian and Soviet scientist and pioneer of astronautics). Drazdovich’s passionate desire to unlock the secrets of the night sky led him to formulate his own theory on the origin of the planets in the solar system. He ...
The Precious Book on Noteworthy Dates
This short work, entitled Kitāb al-yawāqīt fī ma‘rifat al-mawāqīt, and copied by an anonymous scribe in Shawwāl in June-July 1775 (AH 1168), is attributed to Ḥusayn (or Ḥasan) b. Zayd b. ‘Alī al-Jaḥḥāf, who is said to have dedicated it to Abū ‘Alī Manṣūr al-Ḥākim bi Amr-Allāh, the sixth Fāṭimid ruler (died 996). The manuscript lists the 12 months of the year, each on one sheet, in the form of an almanac. The last page is a one-page guide to the interpretation of dreams, reportedly prepared at the behest ...
Calculating Coptic Orthdox Easter
This manuscript deals with the calculation of Easter Sunday according to the Coptic calendar. Fixing this date each year governs much of the liturgical and devotional life of the Coptic Orthodox Church. The Coptic calendar begins in 284 AD, which is called Anno Martyrum (AM), or Year of the Martyrs. The first folio contains a table of the four seasons with their corresponding Coptic months and zodiacal signs. The following pages, some of which are torn or badly stained, provide instructions for calculating the movement of the moon and reconciling ...
The Tianyuan Jade Calendar in Verse Prose on the Auspicious and Unusual Signs
The author of this calendar is unknown. Traditionally it was attributed to Liu Ji (1311–75), an early Ming military strategist and statesman. This copy was issued in the 13th year (1477) of the Chenghua reign of the Ming. Several other editions were made, such as the one printed in 1619, a number of which are held by the National Central Library in Taiwan. Presented here is a one-juan handwritten copy, a rare early manuscript that is slightly damaged. The work lists 60 items, with four-character headings, such as “Heaven ...
Contributed by National Central Library
Calendar Compendium Following the New Western Method
Xu Guangqi (1562–1633), a scholar and official, was a native of Shanghai. He came into contact with Christianity in 1596, later met the Jesuit missionaries Matteo Ricci and João da Rocha in Nanjing, and was baptized in 1603 under the name Paul. After receiving a jin shi degree in 1604, Xu became a bachelor in the Hanlin Academy. From 1604 to 1607 he worked continuously with Ricci, translating works on mathematics, hydraulics, astronomy, and geography, among them Euclid’s Elements, entitled Ji he yuan ben. In 1628 Xu was ...
Contributed by National Central Library
The Great Song Baoyou Calendar Produced in 1256
This work is a rare Qing copy of the 1256 Southern Song manuscript calendar, copied by painter Cheng Xugu in 1815. The first page records the location of the god of the year 1256, the nine constellations, the seven-color spectrum, and the size of the moon. Following this page is the report, dated the tenth month of the third year of the Baoyou reign of the Southern Song (1255) and submitted by the Astrological Service Bureau, responding to the imperial order to print the calendar. The report was signed by ...
Contributed by National Central Library
Reprint Edition of the General Introduction to Calendrical Astronomy
This work originally was written by Wang Yingming (died 1614) and was thought to be the first work of a Chinese scholar influenced by Western learning, as Wang was greatly influenced by Li Zhizao (1565–1630), the official and scholar who undertook the translation of several works by European Jesuit missionaries to China. The manuscript was completed in 1612. It was first published by Wang’s son Wang Yang in 1639. Shown here is a reprinted edition, published in 1646 by Jiguge, the largest publishing house established in Changshu in ...
Contributed by National Central Library
Snippets on the Three Calendars
Presented here is a manuscript copy of a Song edition of a collection of calendars, issued in the late-Ming dynasty by Jiguge, the largest private publishing house established in the late Ming. The work has three parts. Part one contains supplements on the auspicious days in each of the 12 months for the following activities: weddings, marriage proposals, gift giving, travel, boarding a ship, taking office, starting construction, scaffolding a house, digging the ground, moving into a house, burial, wearing and taking off a robe, filing a suit, opening a ...
Contributed by National Central Library
Explanation of the Telescope
The author of the work was Tang Ruowang (Chinese name of Johann Adam Schall von Bell, 1592–1666), the German Jesuit missionary, who, together with Jin Nige (Nicolas Trigault, 1577–1628), arrived in China in 1622. After studying Chinese in Beijing, Schall was sent on mission to Xi’an. He returned to Bejing in 1630 to continue the work of Deng Yuhan (Johannes Terentius, 1576–1630), the Swiss Jesuit missionary, on revising the calendar and devising various astronomical instruments. For his work, he received a plaque with the inscription “Imperial ...
Contributed by National Central Library
The Dresden Codex
Only four Mayan manuscripts still exist worldwide, of which the oldest and best preserved is the Dresden Codex, held in the collections of the Saxon State and University Library. The manuscript was purchased for the Dresden court library in 1739 in Vienna, as a “Mexican book.” In 1853 it was identified as a Mayan manuscript. Consisting of 39 leaves, inscribed on both sides, and approximately 358 centimeters long, the manuscript originally was folded in an accordion-like manner. The chalk-coated writing material, amatl, is a paper-like matter produced from fig-tree fiber ...
Nautical Astrolabe
This nautical astrolabe is thought to be among the earliest surviving nautical astrolabes and dates from about 1500−1520. Most nautical astrolabes had a carved mater (graduated circular element), unlike the solid and compact instrument shown here, which bears a resemblance to the astrolabes of Diogo Ribeiro (died 1533), a Portuguese cartographer and inventor who spent most of his life in Spain. The purpose of nautical astrolabes was to measure the altitude of the sun or a star above the horizon. Navigators could determine a ship’s latitude by knowing ...
Saint Thomas Island, Danish Possession in the Antilles: View from the Brazilian Observatory with the Sandbank and the East Part of the Harbor and the City Charlotte Amalie
This photograph is contained in an album that commemorates the participation of Brazil in the international effort to track the transit of Venus in 1882. This involved the establishment by the Imperial Observatory of an observatory, named after Emperor Dom Pedro II (1825-91), on the island of Saint Thomas in the Danish West Indies (present-day U.S. Virgin Islands). The transit of Venus is a rare astronomical event that occurs when Venus passes between the Earth and the sun, becoming visible in daylight against the solar disk. The transits occur ...
Saint Thomas Island, Danish Possession in the Antilles: View from the Brazilian Observatory with the West Part of the Harbor and the City Charlotte Amalie
This photograph is contained in an album that commemorates the participation of Brazil in the international effort to track the transit of Venus in 1882. This involved the establishment by the Imperial Observatory of an observatory, named after Emperor Dom Pedro II (1825-91), on the island of Saint Thomas in the Danish West Indies (present-day U.S. Virgin Islands). The transit of Venus is a rare astronomical event that occurs when Venus passes between the Earth and the sun, becoming visible in daylight against the solar disk. The transits occur ...
Dom Pedro II Observatory, Saint Thomas Island, Danish Possession in the Antilles: North Face of the Three Pavillions of the Observatory
This photograph is contained in an album that commemorates the participation of Brazil in the international effort to track the transit of Venus in 1882. This involved the establishment by the Imperial Observatory of an observatory, named after Emperor Dom Pedro II (1825-91), on the island of Saint Thomas in the Danish West Indies (present-day U.S. Virgin Islands). The transit of Venus is a rare astronomical event that occurs when Venus passes between the Earth and the sun, becoming visible in daylight against the solar disk. The transits occur ...
Dom Pedro II Observatory, Saint Thomas Island, Danish Possession in the Antilles: Overview of the Observatory from the Northeast with the Three Pavilions and the Collimators of the Meridian Circle Telescope
This photograph is contained in an album that commemorates the participation of Brazil in the international effort to track the transit of Venus in 1882. This involved the establishment by the Imperial Observatory of an observatory, named after Emperor Dom Pedro II (1825-91), on the island of Saint Thomas in the Danish West Indies (present-day U.S. Virgin Islands). The transit of Venus is a rare astronomical event that occurs when Venus passes between the Earth and the sun, becoming visible in daylight against the solar disk. The transits occur ...
Dom Pedro II Observatory, Saint Thomas Island, Danish Possession in the Antilles: Pavilion of the Equatorial Telescope of the First Lieutenant Índio do Brasil. Main Central Pavillion of the Meridian Circle Telescope and Large Equatorial Telescope of the Barão de Teffé. Pavillion of the Equatorial Telescope of the Lieutenant Commander Calheiros da Graça. View from the Southeast, from the Hillside
This photograph is contained in an album that commemorates the participation of Brazil in the international effort to track the transit of Venus in 1882. This involved the establishment by the Imperial Observatory of an observatory, named after Emperor Dom Pedro II (1825-91), on the island of Saint Thomas in the Danish West Indies (present-day U.S. Virgin Islands). The transit of Venus is a rare astronomical event that occurs when Venus passes between the Earth and the sun, becoming visible in daylight against the solar disk. The transits occur ...
Dom Pedro II Observatory, Saint Thomas Island, Danish Possession in the Antilles: Interior View of the East Part of the Main Central Pavillion with the Meridian Circle Telescope, Sidereal Pendulum and the Electric Chronograph
This photograph is contained in an album that commemorates the participation of Brazil in the international effort to track the transit of Venus in 1882. This involved the establishment by the Imperial Observatory of an observatory, named after Emperor Dom Pedro II (1825-91), on the island of Saint Thomas in the Danish West Indies (present-day U.S. Virgin Islands). The transit of Venus is a rare astronomical event that occurs when Venus passes between the Earth and the sun, becoming visible in daylight against the solar disk. The transits occur ...
Dom Pedro II Observatory, Saint Thomas Island, Danish Possession in the Antilles: Interior View of the Western Part of the Main Central Pavillion with the Equatorial Telescope of the Barão de Teffé
This photograph is contained in an album that commemorates the participation of Brazil in the international effort to track the transit of Venus in 1882. This involved the establishment by the Imperial Observatory of an observatory, named after Emperor Dom Pedro II (1825-91), on the island of Saint Thomas in the Danish West Indies (present-day U.S. Virgin Islands). The transit of Venus is a rare astronomical event that occurs when Venus passes between the Earth and the sun, becoming visible in daylight against the solar disk. The transits occur ...
Dom Pedro II Observatory, Saint Thomas Island, Danish Possession in the Antilles: Interior View of the East Pavillion with the Equatorial Telescope of the Lieutenant Commander Calheiros da Graça
This photograph is contained in an album that commemorates the participation of Brazil in the international effort to track the transit of Venus in 1882. This involved the establishment by the Imperial Observatory of an observatory, named after Emperor Dom Pedro II (1825-91), on the island of Saint Thomas in the Danish West Indies (present-day U.S. Virgin Islands). The transit of Venus is a rare astronomical event that occurs when Venus passes between the Earth and the sun, becoming visible in daylight against the solar disk. The transits occur ...
Dom Pedro II Observatory, Saint Thomas Island, Danish Possession in the Antilles: Interior View of the West Pavillion with the Equatorial Telescope of the First Lieutenant Índio do Brasil
This photograph is contained in an album that commemorates the participation of Brazil in the international effort to track the transit of Venus in 1882. This involved the establishment by the Imperial Observatory of an observatory, named after Emperor Dom Pedro II (1825-91), on the island of Saint Thomas in the Danish West Indies (present-day U.S. Virgin Islands). The transit of Venus is a rare astronomical event that occurs when Venus passes between the Earth and the sun, becoming visible in daylight against the solar disk. The transits occur ...
Passage of Venus, December 6, 1882
This photograph, taken by Marc Ferrez on December 6, 1882, is contained in an album that commemorates the participation of Brazil in the international effort to track the transit of Venus that same year. Ferrez honored Brazil’s contribution by compiling a photomontage of the three men commissioned by the Imperial Observatory of Brazil to view the transit on the island of St. Thomas in the Antilles. Antonio Luiz von Hoonholtz Tezpur, the Baron of Teffé, is shown at the top of the picture. Captain Lieutenant Francisco Calheiros da Graça ...
The Observatory Showing Armillary Sphere and Other Astronomical Instruments, Beijing, 1874
In 1874-75, the Russian government sent a research and trading mission to China to seek out new overland routes to the Chinese market, report on prospects for increased commerce and locations for consulates and factories, and gather information about the Dungan Revolt then raging in parts of western China. Led by Lieutenant Colonel Iulian A. Sosnovskii of the army General Staff, the nine-man mission included a topographer, Captain Matusovskii; a scientific officer, Dr. Pavel Iakovlevich Piasetskii; Chinese and Russian interpreters; three non-commissioned Cossack soldiers; and the mission photographer, Adolf Erazmovich ...
The Constellations
The astronomer ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Umar al-Sufi, commonly known as al-Sufi, was born in Persia (present-day Iran) in 903 A.D. and died in 986. He worked in Isfahan and in Baghdad, and is known for his translation from Greek into Arabic of the Almagest by the ancient astronomer Ptolemy. Al-Sufi’s most famous work is Kitab suwar al-kawakib (Book of the constellations of the fixed stars), which he published around 964. In this work, al-Sufi describes the 48 constellations that were established by Ptolemy and adds criticisms and corrections ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
“Pragmatica” on the Ten Days of the Year
This work is the first known South American imprint. It consists of a four-page edict, issued by King Philip II of Spain, decreeing the change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. In order to bring the calendar back into line with the seasons, in February 1582 Pope Gregory XIII deleted ten days from the year 1582, so that October 4, 1582, of the Julian calendar was followed immediately by October 15, 1582, in the new Gregorian calendar. This work was produced in 1584 by Antonio Ricardo, an Italian typographer ...
Contributed by John Carter Brown Library
The Book of Remedies from Deficiencies in Setting Up Marble Sundials
This work is a treatise for timekeepers (singular muwaqqit), and discusses the telling of time from such astronomical observations as the sun’s angle of inclination (mayl), altitude (irtifā‛), as well as the direction (samt) and length of cast shadows (zill). In 14 chapters, the author goes through methods for the computation of these factors, determination of the direction of prayer (qibla), and time of the day. He observes that using instruments (ālāt), such as markings on the ruler (mistara) and the compass (bargār, from the Persian pargār), and geometric ...
Seasonal Almanac Based on the Coptic Calendar
The author of this work, Shaykh al-Islām Ahmad al-Bashtakī, lived in Bashtak near central Cairo. The work goes through the 13 months of the Coptic calendar: Tūt (Thout), Bāba (Paopi), Hātūr (Hathur), Koihak (Koiak), Tūba (Tobi), Imshīr (Meshir), Baremhāt (Paremhat), Barmūda (Paremoude), Bashons (Pashons), Bawna or Būna (Paoni), Ibīb (Epip), Misurī (Mesori), and the Days of Nasī (ayyām al-nasī; also known as the Little Month, Pi Kogi Enavot, or El Nasii). The work gives the corresponding months in the Roman and Persian calendars, notes the astrological significance of days, and ...
A Guide for the Perplexed on the Drawing of the Circle of Projection
The author of this work, Ibn al-Majdī (1366-1447 [767-850 A.H.]), was a renowned mathematician, geometrician, and astronomer. He was linked with the influential Marāgha School through his teacher, Jamāl al-Dīn al-Māridīnī, who in turn had studied with Ibn al-Shātir al-Dimashqī’. As a descendant of a powerful local family with Mamlūk ties, Ibn al-Majdī served as the official astronomer and timekeeper at Al-Azhar. The work is divided into three chapters and a conclusion. Chapter 1 covers the procedure for projecting the circle of projection (fadl al-dā’ir) onto planes that ...
Treatise for Observers on Constructing the Circle of Projection
This work is a treatise on the important subject of timekeeping. It is a work of technical astronomy, in 19 folios, that begins by emphasizing the religious significance of knowledge of time. It is divided into an introduction, two chapters, and a conclusion. Comprehensive procedures for the construction of tables and their use are provided. The work was completed in 1473 (878 A.H.).
Compendium on Using the Device Known as the Almucantar Quarter
This work, by a timekeeper at the Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, is an important and comprehensive textbook on timekeeping. It introduces the useful device of dividing a quarter of a circle of projection into sections known as almucantars (muqanṭarāt). The work, comprising 100 folio pages, contains 30 chapters and a conclusion. The work was composed in 1440-1 (844 A.H.) and was copied in 1757 (1170 A.H.).
The Travelers Guide on Drawing the Circle of Projection
This is a work on timekeeping and the determination of the direction of prayer (qibla), particularly intended for people who travel. The author, Abu al-‛Abbās Shihāb al-Dīn Ahmad b. Zayn al-Dīn Rajab b. Tubayghā al-Atābakī, known as al-Majdī or Ibn al-Majdī (1366-1447 [767-850 A.H.]), was descended from a powerful family with ties to Mamlūk rulers and was a renowned and prominent mathematician, geometrician, and astronomer. He served as the timekeeper of the Al-Azhar Mosque. This work is an abridgment of his other major book, Irshād al-ḥā’ir ilā ...
Maximum Benefit from the Knowledge of Circles of Projection on the 30 Degree Northern Latitude
This work, a treatise on practical astronomy, deals with such issues as timekeeping and determining the proper direction of prayer. The work begins with a brief introduction, but the bulk of the manuscript contains tables used to determine time. The introductory section contains illustrative examples on how to use the tables.
Deliverance from Error on Knowledge of Times of Day and the Direction of Prayer
This work on elementary knowledge of practical astronomy begins by emphasizing the religious significance of knowing how to keep the time and how to determine the proper direction of prayer (qibla). It describes the conventional correspondence between ordinal numbers and the letters of the Arabic alphabet. It then enumerates, and goes through, the names of the months in the lunar Arabic calendar and in the solar Coptic calendar. It highlights certain important dates, such as the beginning of the New Year, and introduces the 12 zodiacal signs. The front page ...
Winds of the Four Directions
This oracle bone from around 1200 B.C. contains 24 characters in four groups in a vigorous and strong style, typical of the Bin group of diviners in the reign of Wu Ding (circa 1200-1189 B.C.). It records the gods of the four directions and of the four winds. The winds of the four directions reflect the spring and autumn equinoxes, the summer and winter solstices, and the changes of the four seasons. The four winds are the east wind, called Xie; the south wind, called Wei; the west ...
Contributed by National Library of China
A Brief Essay on the Quadrant Known as Muqantarat
This manuscript on astronomy and surveying describes the sine quadrant and parallel circles. Its author is unknown. The work explains how to measure topographic heights, know prayer times, and determine the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca, toward which Muslims pray. The date of transcription is unknown, but was possibly in the 18th century. The manuscript is from the Bašagić Collection of Islamic Manuscripts in the University Library of Bratislava, Slovakia, which was inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World register in 1997. Safvet beg Bašagić (1870-1934) was a ...
The Fathiyya Essay on Using the Mughayyab Quadrant
This treatise by Badruddin al-Maridini (died 1506 [912 AH]), better known as Sibt al-Maridini, includes an introduction, 20 sections, and a conclusion. The treatise discusses a range of issues in astronomy, surveying, and mathematics. It describes the sine quadrant and parallel circles, and explains how to measure the width of a river, the angle of a star, the depth of a well, or the height of a mountain. Al-Maridini, whose parents were from Damascus, was born, raised, and educated in Cairo late in the Mamluk Dynasty (1250–1517). The manuscript ...