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Observatory of Ulugbek in Samarkand

Ulugbek Observatory, Samarkand

Ulugbek Observatory is one of the most significant observatories of the Middle Ages, built by Ulugbek on Kuhak Hill in the vicinity of Samarkand in 1424-1428.

The remains of the observatory were found and investigated by archaeologist V.L. Vyatkin in 1908. The study of one of the documents of the 17th century: donation to the earth for the Dervish monastery, helped to find an accurate description of the location of the observatory. In 1948, the expedition of the Institute of History and Archeology of the Academy of Sciences of the Uzbek SSR, led by archaeologist V. A. Shishkin (1893-1966), completed the last stage of excavation, exposing the foundations of the observatory and fragments of the building right up to their foundation on a natural rock.

According to the reconstruction, the observatory had the form of a three-story cylindrical building 30.4 m high and 46.40 m in diameter, and contained a grandiose goniometer oriented from north to south - a sextant (or quadrant) with a radius of 40.21 m, on which measurements were made of the height of the celestial bodies above the horizon as they pass through the celestial meridian. The device is excavated and well preserved in the underground. It is assumed that its arc made up the sixth part of the circle with the working part from 20 ° to 80 °.

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The tool arc is bounded by two marble barriers. Divisions and numbers are carved on marble at each degree of the circle. Each degree corresponds to an interval of 70 cm. Brick stairs run along the barriers.

Azimuth observations could be made on a horizontal circle on the roof of the building. There were other instruments at the observatory that were not preserved.

Such large astronomers as Kazi-zade ar-Rumi, al-Kashi, al-Kushchi worked in the Ulugbek Observatory. Here, by 1437, the Gurgan zij was compiled - a catalog of the starry sky, in which 1018 stars were described. The stellar year length was also determined there: 365 days, 6 hours, 10 minutes, 8 seconds (with an error of + 58 seconds).

The Ulugek Observatory Museum was built in 1970 to commemorate Ulugbek. The museum contains reproductions of the Arabic manuscripts Ulugbek's star charts, the Zij-i Sultani, and of important European printed editions of Ulugbek's work. It also contains astrolabes and other instruments as well as a miniature reconstruction of the observatory itself.

Entrance fee: 2.5 USD

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