Tuesday, January 5, 2010

539)Arabic- And Persian-Named Stars, Clusters and Constellations As Seen On A Clear Night From A Cruise Ship In The Southern Hemisphere;& A Bond Movie

Beneath the banner "Movies under the stars" on the outside top deck of our cruise boat, lying on beach chairs, snuggling under warm red blankets, munching on popcorn just like at Silver City Fairview Mall, we watched Daniel Craig play a brutish James Bond in Casino Royale. But this Bond was actually falling in love with the alluring Vesper Lynd who herself had vowed never to fall for the pull of his "perfectly formed arse", among other things. She does eventually fall in love with him but ends up breaking his heart. Can you imagine James Bond with a broken heart?! I think this Bond will turn out to be a good one despite M's attempts to mother him, a 007 agent licensed to kill.

How appropriate for me to be watching an action movie on a gigantic screen blaring out the headline "Movies under the stars". When the movie ended my attention turned to the heavens and it immediately dawned on me how clear the night sky was. Many stars in our Milky Way galaxy as well as a galaxy or two nearby were clearly visible, if not with the naked eye then definitely with binoculars. What I witnessed was a visual feast far more alluring than the movie I had just seen.

I recognized some clear patterns in the night sky which anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of astronomy would find with ease. I was on the hunt for living proof of Islam's ascendancy in the field of astronomy about a millenium ago. If you don't believe the quotes of Aga Khan IV in Blogpost Four Hundred, the cardinal post of my Blog on the link between Science and Religion in Islam and the high octane fuel that powers my Blog, or Jim al Khalili as he narrates the blockbusting BBC 7-part series "Science and Islam"(this series was recently featured on the much-visited and wildly popular ISMAILI MAIL website)-if you don't beleive them-then just look up at the sky and see for yourself.

Many stars discovered, observed and described by Muslim astronomers from the 7th to 14th centuries have retained their Arabic and or Persian names in the 21st century and many of those names are quite imaginative in their descriptions.

Clearly visible in the skies of the southern hemiphere(our cruiseboat was steaming up the southern Pacific coast of Chile in South America) the first cluster that screams out at you is the Southern Cross, shaped like a crucifix. This structure is not visible without serious telescopic magnification in the northern hemisphere, which is where I live.

The individual stars, star clusters or constellations with Arabic or Persian names present in that night sky in the southern hemisphere during the waning days of December 2009 were:

1)Eri, the brightest star in the Eridanus cluster, latinized word for the Arabic, which means "end of the River"
2)The 3 very large stars that form the belt of Orion: Al-Nitak, Al-Nilam and Mintaka
3)Nearby stars to Orion's belt: Betelgeuse and Rigel
4)Aldeberan, a star inside the Hyades constellation
5)Algol, a star in the Perseus constellation
6)Hamal, a star in Aries
7)Mira and Diphda, stars in the Cetus constellation
8)Achenar, a star near the Phoenix constellation
9)Alnair, a star in the Grus constellation

As we approach the northern hemisphere in January 2010 many of the stars mentioned above continue to be visible here but also those that make up the Big Dipper and Little Dipper:

Big Dipper:

Little Dipper:
6)KhochabAlifa al Farkadain
7)Anwar al Farkadain

Other stars that are visible include Alteb and Denair, which lie close to the curve of the Milky Way galaxy.

Let's also not forget the crater on our Moon named after Ibn Battuta, the famous Muslim traveller from the Middle Ages..........

"The great Muslim philosopher al-Kindi wrote eleven hundred years ago, "No one is diminished by the truth, rather does the truth ennoble us all"(Aga Khan IV, 27th May 1994, Cambridge, Massachusets, U.S.A.)

"The truth, as the famous Islamic scholars repeatedly told their students, is that the spirit of disciplined, objective enquiry is the property of no single culture, but of all humanity. To quote the great physician and philosopher, Ibn Sina: "My profession is to be forever journeying, to travel about the universe so that I may know all its conditions." "(Aga Khan IV, Aga Khan University, 16 March 1983, Karachi, Pakistan)

"And the more we discover, the more we know, the more we penetrate just below the surface of our normal lives - the more our imagination staggers.........What we feel, even as we learn, is an ever-renewed sense of wonder, indeed, a powerful sense of awe – and of Divine inspiration.....the Power and the Mystery of Allah as the Lord of Creation"(Aga Khan IV, Ottawa, Canada, December 6th 2008)

"Astronomy, the so-called “Science of the Universe” was a field of particular distinction in Islamic civilization-–in sharp contrast to the weakness of Islamic countries in the field of Space research today. In this field, as in others, intellectual leadership is never a static condition, but something which is always shifting and always dynamic"(Aga Khan IV, Convocation, American University of Cairo, Cairo, Egypt, June 15th 2006)

Above quotes from:

Related Posts:
Al-Nitak, Al-Nilam, Mintaka, Betelgeuse, Al-Deberan: Arabic-named stars in nearby constellations in space.

Big Dipper and Little Dipper in the night sky: legacy of Astronomy during Islam's golden era.

Islam and Astronomy: Vestiges of a fine legacy; Quotes of Aga Khan IV and Ibn Sin

A Collection of Posts on Astronomy; Quotes of Noble Quran, Aga Khan IV, Aga Khan III, Nasir Khusraw, Abu Yakub Al Sijistani and Aristotle.

Easy Nash

The Qur'an itself repeatedly recommends Muslims to become better educated in order better to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
The Quran tells us that signs of Allah's Sovereignty are found in the contemplation of His Creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
This notion of the capacity of the human intellect to understand and to admire the creation of Allah will bring you happiness in your everyday lives: Aga Khan IV(2007)
Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2006)
The Holy Qu'ran's encouragement to study nature and the physical world around us gave the original impetus to scientific enquiry among Muslims: Aga Khan IV(1985)
The first and only thing created by God was the Intellect(Aql): Prophet Muhammad(circa 632CE)