Astronomy and physical sciences, Science

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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.  

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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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