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Astronomy and Physical Sciences:
Astronomy was used not only for working out the calendar, the dates of the eclipses and for the determination of time but also for casting horoscopes for astrological purposes. Astronomy was also needed for fixing the direction of Mecca, in order to properly align the mosques. We find that Firozeshah Tughlaq (1351-88) established an observatory where a special type of astrolabe and waterclock were set up. The interest of the rulers in astronomy continued during the Mughal period. Humayun is reputed to have employed a number of astronomers and with their help, he attempted to make astronomical observations.
The astrolabes made in India during the seventeenth century, were no doubt an achievement of metal and wood-workers and of mathematical arts. Also, a high degree of accuracy was achieved in circular gradation, which affected all measurements. The most impo&nt stride in the field was made at the beginning of the eighteenth century. Raja Jai Singh, under the patronage of Emperor Muhammad Shah, established observatories at a number of places, such as Delhi (Fig.), Jaipur, Uijain, Benaras and Mathura. He paid special attention to the instruments of observation. A noticeable feature was the construction of large sized observational instruments for fixing time and determining latitudes. He succeeded in compiling fairly accurate astronomical tables, rectifying the calendar and in making more accurate predictions of eclipses. Jai Singh's astronomical tables entitled Zif-i Muhammad Shahi borrowed heavily from the Z if-i Ulugh Beg (1394- 1449) in the text, but his actual calculations and figures are different. Nevertheless, in the theory of astronomy, there was hardly any advance over the Ptolemaic system. It is the astrological aspect and preparation of horoscopes which proved to be the mystifying distraction.
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